Department of Political Economy, King's College London.
The introduction of mass screening programmes in the UK has been controversial. It is instructive to examine medical conditions for which screening has been actively considered but not introduced, such as prostate cancer. Incidence of the disease has escalated during the last 20 years, partly due to the upsurge in use of PSA (prostate-specific antigen) detection technology. The controversy is moving into a new phase, associated with the development of new molecular genetic biomarkers and tests derived from genome-association studies. The paper outlines the most recent scientific and technological developments for the three types of detection technology - PSA, genetic, and genomic. Applying concepts of risk, technology governance and technology expectations, it is shown that central public health governance actors continue to resist the tidal wave of new technologies through a variety of increasingly diverse governance modes. In the case of PSA, a governance trend moving beyond 'responsibilisation' to citizen rights is shown, whereas in the case of genetic tests and genomic risk profiling, state public health agencies are shown to be engaging in a form of technology expectation management, as it responds to a new marketplace of private commercial testing and mediatised science-based visions of future healthcare.
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Reference: Sociol Health Illn. 2011 Aug 3. Epub ahead of print.