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New Doubts on Value of Prostate Cancer Screening

Study Suggests Prostate Cancer Screening Doesn’t Lower Death Rate

Screening for Prostate Cancer

The newly published study included close to 1,500 Swedish men randomly selected for prostate cancer screening every three years from 1987 to 1999 and about 7,500 men who were not screened.

Digital rectal examinations were the only screening method used until 1993, when PSA testing was added to the screening protocol.

Between January 1987 and the end of 1999, 85 screened study participants (5.7%) and 292 men who were not screened (3.9%) received a diagnosis of prostate cancer.

The tumors detected in the screening group tended to be smaller and more localized than those found in the men who were not screened. But the death rate did not differ significantly between the two groups.

Sandblom says PSA testing is beneficial for men with symptoms suggestive of prostate cancer or men with a high risk for the disease due to family history.

He agrees that the test is not appropriate for other men unless they fully understand the benefits and limitations of screening.

Because some men in the study did not have a PSA test at all and none had more than two tests, Brooks says the study adds little to the PSA debate.

“We know from other studies that PSA is far from a perfect tool,” he says. “While it has certainly had some value for some men, questions remain about its long-term impact on whether or not men die from prostate cancer.”

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