There are several possible downsides to screening.
Any medical test can generate a "false positive" — a result that says you might have the disease, when in fact you don't. These false positive can lead to more testing … overdiagnosis … and overtreatment, with lots of pain and side effects.
The article by Dr. Stefanek followed a recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) against routine screening for prostate cancer using the PSA test.
In their review of research on PSA testing and prostate cancer, the USPSTF found "there is a moderate or high certainty that the service has no benefit or that the harms outweigh the benefits."
In fact, one of the studies they reviewed showed no reduction of mortality from prostate cancer after 10 years of screening — and risks from prostate cancer treatment that included erectile dysfunction, urinary incontinence and bowel dysfunction.
Men in the screening group were actually slightly more likely to die of prostate cancer.
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