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Leading Australian cancer agencies are seeking community and professional input into draft clinical practice guidelines aimed at maximising the benefits and minimising the harms of use of the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test for prostate cancer.
The Australian draft guidelines were released for public consultation today at the World Cancer Congress. At a breakfast and press conference, the Expert Advisory Panel, which includes general practitioners, public health experts, urologists, pathologists and allied health professionals, discussed the key recommendations of the guidelines and took questions from press and audience members.
The guidelines aim to address the long-standing issue of whether or not to offer men a PSA test to check for prostate cancer. One of the main risks associated with PSA testing is that there can be false positive results, meaning men can be subjected to unnecessary, and often harmful, treatment.
Chair of the Expert Advisory Panel, Emeritus Professor Villis Marshall AC, said that the lack of consensus around PSA testing confuses men and their health advisors.
“Prostate cancer is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in Australian men and the fourth most common cause of men’s deaths overall. We simply cannot afford to ignore this important health issue,” said Professor Marshall AC at the breakfast.
At the press conference, panel member and leading cancer epidemiologist Professor Bruce Armstrong AM said that the guidelines addressed key clinical questions around PSA testing strategies: the age at which men should have their first test; the level of PSA at which to declare a result abnormal; and the frequency of subsequent testing if PSA levels are normal.
Professor Armstrong emphasised the need for a consensus around national guidelines for any medical practice where there are benefits, harms and variations in practice. These guidelines, he said, are designed to maximise the benefits of testing and minimise the harms, while ensuring that men and their GPs are fully informed about the risks and benefits of undergoing testing.
This is the first time globally that an expert advisory panel with all key stakeholders and varying perspectives have come together for the development of draft guidelines for PSA testing.
Professor Armstrong said it is important to remember that the guidelines are in draft form, and today’s release marks the beginning of a process of public consultation.
“Every offering we receive from the community in regards to these guidelines will be considered,” said Professor Armstrong. “This is just the start of the process.”
Cancer Council Australia and Prostate Cancer Foundation Australia (PCFA) facilitated the process.
The draft guidelines are now available on a wiki platform for public consultation. They can be viewed at     :wiki.cancer.org.au/Australia/Guidelines:PSATesting

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