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Health Study Finds Regular Prostate Blood Screening Reduces Death
March 15, 2012
A new study conducted in Europe concluded that regular prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood tests reduced the possibility of death from prostate cancer by 21 percent, and was published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. In the follow up study conducted by the European Randomized Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer (ERSPC) over an 11-year period, 162,000 men, all between the ages of 55 and 69, were screened with results that may challenge the value of the screening.
The study highlighted that PSA tests done every four years reduced prostate cancer risks but did not lower the mortality rate amongst older men. Because of prostate cancer’s typically slow growth, there are not effective ways available to screen which instances of the cancer could become fatal. There are some health experts that even deem the PSA tests to be counterproductive and even dangerous.
“A man needs to make a choice for himself, realizing the benefits exist in theory, but the harms have been shown in every study that we've ever done in prostate cancer," said Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society to the Associated Press. "If there is an overall mortality benefit from prostate screening it is very, very small."
The PSA screening only detects inflammation, which sometimes may be related to other health issues. The argument is that PSA tests found cancers in the men that didn’t even need to be treated in some cases. However, doctors aren’t urging an end to PSA screens but the universal thought is that prostate cancer is one of the causes of death but not the primary reason.
In America, an estimated 29,000 men die per year because of prostate cancer related causes.
For more on the study, follow this link: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1113135
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