Leading the Prostate Cancer Screening Discussion
Urologists have always been at the forefront of helping the general public understand the complexities surrounding prostate cancer screening, surveillance, and treatment. Over the past several years, November, or Movember, has become an increasingly important time of year to educate patients and the media about prostate cancer.
TODAY Show’s Controversial Tweet about PSA Testing
It’s not just urologists that are driving the conversations about prostate cancer, however. Recently, the iconic American morning television program, “TODAY Show“, posted a controversial tweet about PSA (prostate-specific antigen) screening from cardiologist Eric Topol to its 2.4 million followers. The recommendation was not a position held by the American Urological Association, and members of my urology community.
Dr. Brahmbhatt responded with the following tweet that:
1) reposted the TODAY tweet graphic,
2) expressed his disagreement, and
3) notified other urologists by adding their names to his tweet:
— Dr. Jamin Brahmbhatt (@UrologicMD) November 12, 2014
The Conversation Turns One Way
Dr. Topol’s recommendations were quickly challenged by several members of the urology community.
Other physicians, patients, and patient advocates also expressed their concern about the tweet.
Multiple attempts were made, via Twitter, to engage both Dr. Topol and the TODAY show about their statements. So far, there has been no response to our tweets.
Then, without explanation, the tweet was removed from the TODAY show feed. In the process, a chance to have a meaningful conversation and debate with the urology community about PSA screening was seemingly lost.
Guidelines From the American Urological Association
The American Urological Association (AUA) and the Urology Care Foundation provide urologists, primary care physicians and patients with a variety of educational tools to help answer questions about PSA screening and early prostate cancer detection. The Know Your Stats Campaign has produced its own easy to read educational resource.
The AUA formally responded to the TODAY show and to Dr. Topol with a tweet containing this diagram.
The Best Practice Statement for PSA testing is nicely summarized in this tweet by Dr. Scott Eggener.
Understanding the Power of Social Media – This is TODAY
Social media is becoming an increasingly important knowledge-sharing tool. Even traditional media has turned to it to further engage with its audience.
As urologists, we have an obligation to educate our patients and the general public. It is our duty to be the voice of knowledge and reason.
The conversation about prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment has traditionally been driven by urologists. As specialists in men’s health, if we want to continue to be leaders in this arena, we need to establish a robust and trustworthy presence on social media.