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TODAY AIRS CONTROVERSIAL PROSTATE CANCER FEATURE

November 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

It may have seemed like a certain ratings grabber and a public-service achievement to boot, but the decision by the producers of NBC’s Today show to have cohosts Matt Lauer and Al Roker undergo prostate cancer tests “live” on this morning’s (Thursday) episode could easily backfire. In fact, unlike the televising of Katie Couric’s colonoscopy in 2000, which showed the view of a tiny camera being snaked through Couric’s intestines and discussed the importance of detection in this manner, the rectal examinations of Lauer and Roker were conducted behind closed doors at Lenox Hill Hospital, with the two men emerging about a half minute later with the doctor who examined them giving them a clean bill of health (subject to a blood test). And while the show’s hosts, NBC medical correspondent Dr. Nancy Snyderman, and urologist Dr. David Samadi, who examined them, urged men who were watching to follow suit, there was no mention of the fact that such prostate cancer screenings have become increasingly controversial, with most recent studies indicating that they often result in unnecessary treatment that can leave men experiencing numerous complications, including erectile dysfunction, urinary incontinence and bowel problems. Moreover, nearly all studies have indicated that no screening test can identify subjects who are likely to benefit from treatment. As several studies have concluded, most men with prostate cancer will die from other causes and many will never experience health problems from their cancer. This morning’s broadcast is also likely to be faulted for its “infotainment” approach to the topic, with Dr. Samadi cracking jokes about the examination. “For [a] second opinion, we’re going to use two fingers,” he quipped at the end of the segment.