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Research Letter
Health Care Reform
Nov 12, 2012

Impact of the 2008 US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation to Discontinue Prostate Cancer Screening Among Male Medicare Beneficiaries

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Section of General Internal Medicine (Drs Ross and Gross and Ms Long) and the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program (Drs Ross and Gross), Department of Internal Medicine, and Division of Chronic Disease Epidemiology, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health (Drs Wang and Ma),Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut; and Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation (Dr Ross), Cancer Outcomes, Public Policy, and Effectiveness Research Center, Yale Comprehensive Cancer Center (Drs Wang, Gross, and Ma and Ms Long), Yale–New Haven Hospital, New Haven.

Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(20):1601-1603. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2012.3726

For clinical evidence to have an impact on the health of populations, guideline recommendations must be rapidly and widely disseminated and physicians and other health care professionals must act responsively. Recommendations to discontinue care may be even more challenging. Recently, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended that no man receives prostate-specific antigen (PSA)-based screening for prostate cancer.1 While the impact of this recommendation will not be immediately understood in practice, the impact of the USPSTF's August 2008 recommendation to discontinue PSA-based prostate cancer screening for men 75 years and older may inform expectations.2

We used 2007-2009 data from the linked Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)–Medicare database,3 cancer incidence, and survival from patients in geographic areas representing 28% of the US population, cross-matched with the Medicare enrollment master file, along with a 5% sample of noncancer Medicare beneficiaries residing in SEER program areas.