Policy Archive

Prostate Cancer Screening Guidelines Fall Short

Screening & Prevention

In May 2017, FORCE submitted comments on the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) Draft Recommendation Statement and Evidence Review for Prostate Cancer Screening. The USPSTF is a panel of experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine that reviews and develops recommendations on the effectiveness of a broad range of preventive services. These guidelines are used by health care providers to determine appropriate screening and preventive care, and to inform insurance coverage decisions on specific preventive services.

The Affordable Care Act stipulates that any preventive service receiving a USPSTF rating of "A" or "B" must be covered by most health plans with no copay or cost-sharing for the patient. Consequently, these guidelines impact access to care for many members of the hereditary cancer community.

Urology ConsultationUnfortunately, the guidelines now give a grade "C" to the use of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing to screen for prostate cancer. This means that the USPSTF recommends "selectively offering or providing this service to individual patients based on professional judgment and patient preferences." The is an improvement as the prior guidelines, published in May 2012, gave a "D" to PSA testing and recommended against its use in early detection of prostate cancer. We are concerned, however, that a grade "C" may negatively affect health care coverage for cancer screening of men with BRCA or other inherited genetic mutations, which predispose them to prostate cancer.

It is important to differentiate between "average risk" men and those who may be at increased risk of cancer. FORCE suggested that the Task Force review the data, extend the evaluation and assign a grade "B" for PSA testing in high-risk men but it failed to do so. The guidelines mention the potential need for increased screening among African American men and those with a family history of prostate cancer. This does not serve the best interests of our community, however, since over half of the men with metastatic prostate cancer, who carry an inherited BRCA or ATM mutation, have no known family history of the disease.

For high-risk men who encounter issues with insurance coverage of prostate cancer screening, we have created a customizable sample appeal letter which makes the case that this screening is medically necessary.

Take Action Now 2021 Priorities Advocacy Archive Public Policy Initiatives

News Briefs

3/31/2021 - Expressed support for legislation (S.5355/A.2151) that would establish genetic counseling as a licensed profession in the state of New York.

3/16/2021 - Signed on in support of the Medicare Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act of 2021 (H.R. 1946), which will give CMS authority to cover blood-based multi-cancer early detection tests and future test methods (like urine or hair tests), once approved by the FDA.

2/17/2021 - In a letter to President Biden, underscored the urgency of prioritizing access to the COVID-19 vaccine for patients with active cancer and survivors of cancer.

2/4/2021 - Joined a group of 75 orgs in a letter to HHS expressing concern that new Medicare Payment Modernization models proposed by the prior administration could jeopardize access to medically necessary prescription drugs and harm patients with serious illnesses.

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