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Erroneous Study Of Advanced Prostate Cancer Criticized By Experts

First Posted: Jul 23, 2016 04:10 AM EDT
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The erroneous study questioned for the method it used to arrive on its findings.


(Photo : Rick Gershon / Getty Images)

This week, bad news for adult men has plagued the internet in the United States. Experts found that a study from Northwestern University was based on false information reporting that the cases of advanced, aggressive prostate cancer had risen sharply from 2004- 2013.

A report from The New York Times claimed that there are several organizations that covered the study including Newsweek, NBC, CBS, Fox News and United Press Internationals. Their reports revealed that recent medical advice against routine screening may be the one to blame for the supposed rise in advanced cases because it causes diagnosis to be delayed until the cancer is already too late to be treated. Another factor that was pointed was the possibility that prostate cancer were more aggressive than it originally was.

However, on Wednesday, the American Cancer Society disputed the validity of the Northwestern researchers' findings. According to Dr. Otis Brawley, the society's chief medical officer, said the methodology used by the researchers was defective, leading to the study's false conclusions, upi.com reported.

"This study makes a dramatic claim about an issue all of us have been watching eagerly: namely, whether less PSA screening might lead to more advanced cancers. But the current analysis is far from adequate to answer that question sufficiently," Brawley said in a news release.

Brawley explained that the normal way studies like this are done to assess the success rate. "But this study, done by a group of urologists, didn't do that. Rather than measure rates of metastatic disease, they looked at the number of cases. That is far from the same thing," he explained.

"You can't simply look at raw numbers. A rising number of cases can be due simply to a growing and aging population among other factors," he added.

"But the frightening news appears to be a false alarm, the product of a study questioned by other researchers but promoted with an incendiary news release and initially reported by some news media with little or no analysis from outside experts," according to a NY Times report by Denise Grady,

Meanwhile, newstonight.co.za reported authors of the study wrote that the use of routine blood tests to evaluate prostate cancer has decreased, and they also wanted to determine if the decline had caused changes in the occurrence of advanced disease during the time of diagnosis.

Another expert has voiced out similar doubts. Dr. Christopher Filson, an assistant professor of urology at Emory University School of Medicine, said: "I don't want to claim their results are wrong. They may be true, but the way they looked at the question brings in too many possible alternative explanations."

A report in CBS News revealed, "The number of new cases of advanced prostate cancer in the United States has soared by about 72 percent in the last decade, according to a new study. The report, published today in in Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases, a journal from Nature, prompted researchers to question whether a recent trend of fewer men being screened may be contributing to the rise."

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