Prostate cancer screening: how will this be reported?

I’d love to do a study of column inches of negative trials versus positive ones. This Swedish study in the BMJ, published on the 31st March, found that over 20 years of screening, in almost 1500 men, there was no change in death rate from prostate cancer whether you had prostate cancer screening or not. As I write, the Prostate Cancer Charity has not responded to this paper on their website. (They did, however, respond to news of a potential biomarker for prostate cancer, which hadn’t been tested thoroughly, and also commentated on the “scepticism among some GPs are major hurdles for men in exercising their right to request a simple test” which is interesting, because if PSA testing is one thing, it isn’t simple). It’s not mentioned in the Prostate Foundation’s ‘news’ section. Neither is it mentioned in Prostate Actions’ news either.

Do charities have a bias in what news they report to their supporters?

5 Responses to “Prostate cancer screening: how will this be reported?”

  1. Dr Grumble April 1, 2011 at 7:09 pm #

    These charities have agendas. They see a problem and they take the view that something must be done. They don’t care if that something doesn’t actually help – or worse. Unfortunately they have made countless men incontinent and/or impotent for nothing.

  2. Margaret McCartney
    margaretmccartney April 1, 2011 at 7:30 pm #

    Indeed, I have yet to hear a charity say that they believe that doctors are aware enough of ‘their’ particular condition, or that enough is being done about it.

  3. Dr Grumble April 1, 2011 at 8:07 pm #

    The problems these charities cause are widespread. They say just what they like and people, even professionals, believe them.

    According to the House of Commons Health Committee, in the UK pulmonary embolism following deep vein thrombosis in hospitalised patients causes between 25,000 and 32,000 deaths each year. Now where do you think they got that figure from? If you take the trouble to check you will find it was from a charity. NICE reproduced the same figure without checking. What do you think the actual figure was?

  4. Margaret McCartney
    margaretmccartney April 1, 2011 at 8:19 pm #

    I agree – although I think NICE were probably pushed on their figures by, er, the other people on the committee. They do admit the lack of evidence in the small print. But it’s all rather disgraceful. Charities are always seen as a ‘good thing’when they can be just as prejudiced as anyone else.

  5. A Reader April 1, 2011 at 8:53 pm #

    I haven’t read the study, but it all rings too true. There’s also the issue of, take the test, receive a “high” number and then take action, which could well be worse than pointless.