Ben Stiller made news headlines earlier this week when he revealed that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2014. Stiller has since made a full recovery and credits an early, preventative PSA test for this positive outcome. The actor was 46 years old and held no high-risk factors when he underwent the “baseline” PSA test that discovered his cancer.
Stiller’s story highlights the timely debate within the medical community about the proper age to begin these preventative screenings, which the American Cancer Association recently changed to 50 years old for individuals at an “average risk level.”
As a strong advocate for early prostate cancer screening, Dr. Scott Miller was thrilled to hear Stiller speaking out about this issue and offered his own take on the topic:
Recommendations for prostate cancer screening are based on the number of screening tests it takes to save one life. This is an example of how statistical analysis of a large number of people can fail the individual. Men in their 40’s are unlikely to develop prostate cancer, but such young men will have a shortened life as a result. Even slower growing cancers can kill if given enough time. On the other hand, older men are more likely to develop prostate cancer but may not succumb to slower growing versions during their natural life span.
Using this flawed approach, one would believe that the “sweet spot” for efficient screening would be between the ages of 55 and 65. However, efficiency pays no regard to the young prostate cancer victim who, if not properly screened, will be destined to die from this devastating disease.
Ben Stiller chose not to follow the herd, but rather seek out an approach tailored to his individual needs.
The current fad for prostate cancer screening revolves around informed decision-making and the doctor-patient relationship prior to a simple PSA blood test. A time-consuming and burdensome process for a mere blood test creates an artificial barrier between a patient and the information he needs. Ben Stiller’s physician recommended a “baseline” PSA test in order to provide him with what he needed to make a proper informed decision.
If you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer or are interested in undergoing a preventative prostate cancer screening, please reach out and schedule an appointment with Dr. Scott Miller.