Advising men on prostate cancer screening – is the cart before the horse in terms of evidence?

Thursday, March 27th, 2014 | Kate Sloane | 2 Comments

Associate Professor Diana Sarfati and Dr Caroline Shaw

Associate Professor Diana Sarfati and Dr Caroline Shaw are public health experts in screening, especially cancer screening. They are both from the Department of Public Health at the University of Otago, Wellington. 

Prostate screening posterAnother review of the evidence for prostate cancer screening with prostate specific antigen (PSA) was published in the last week in the journal JAMA.[1] This blog considers the key recent evidence relating to prostate cancer screening.  There remain many problematic issues with this type of screening – including the cloudy nature of the overall evidence on benefits vs harms.  It is not reasonable to ask individual men and clinicians to make decisions regarding PSA-based screening. The Ministry should withdraw the recent pamphlets from circulation, and advice GPs and the public that there is insufficient evidence to recommend screening.

Continue reading

Should NZ spend relatively more health resources on improving men’s health?

Thursday, March 13th, 2014 | Nick Wilson | 2 Comments

Associate Professor Nick Wilson

There is no doubt that NZ needs to keep addressing ethnic inequalities in health as an important priority. Nevertheless, gender inequalities may also be worth some consideration given that NZ men have lower life expectancy than women by four years. This blog summarises key data and considers the major risk factors determining poorer male health. It then discusses if there is a plausible case for shifting more of the available health resources towards improving male health.

Good and poor health graphFigure: Years of life lived in good and poor health (based on data in: Ministry of Health 2013)

Continue reading