John D. Shier, RN, PhD

John Shier is a Registered Nurse and Doctor of Philosophy who entered the profession of nursing at the young age of sixty and after having two prior successful careers.

Prior to his nursing career and his work as "ThatGuyNurse," John was an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay for fourteen years. John also served eighteen years as the Executive Director of the Lake Michigan Area Agency on Aging as well as providing leadership as the Executive Director of the United Way of Brown County.

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John D. Shier RN, Ph.D.
2790 Elm Tree Hill
Apt. 330
Green Bay, WI 54313

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Archive for the ‘That Guy Nurse’ Category

To Screen or Not to Screen for Breast and Prostate Cancer?

Controversial recent studies concerning mammography to detect breast cancer and PSA (prostate
specific antigen) tests for prostate cancer have suggested that these
procedures often cause more harm than help and that they generally do not
prolong life. Inaccurate and often incomplete media coverage of these studies
has led to widespread confusion as to exactly what they recommend.

The United States Preventive Service Taskforce (USPST) concludes that for men
younger than age 75 years, the benefits of screening for prostate cancer are
uncertain and the balance of benefits and harms cannot be determined.

For men 75 years or older, there is moderate certainty that the harms of screening
for prostate cancer outweigh the benefits.

The USPST also states that for women 40-74 years old: evidence indicates that biennial mammogram screening is
optimal. A biennial schedule preserves most of the benefit of annual screening
and cuts the harms nearly in half. A longer interval may reduce the benefit.

So the question remains; should women have annual mammograms?  If there is no
family history of breast cancer, how often should they have mammograms? Given new
technologies for doing mammograms, which technology should be employed?

Likewise, when should men begin to have PSA tests?  Who should have
them.  How can one balance the values of
the PSA versus its dangers?

Professional patients do not just take their doctor’s recommendations.  They
seek information on the best and latest research. They become well enough
informed to be able to have a dialogue with their doctor through which they can
come to an informed decision as to whether or not to undergo either of these

The United States Preventive Services Taskforce is an excellent source of information on these matters.  Its views and recommendations can be found at

Check it out and then decide. That’s what professionals do.