There are about 174,650 new cases of prostate cancer annually in the US and about 31,620 deaths from prostate cancer. While some prostate cancers are aggressive and lethal, others are clinically insignificant and will never lead to any harm or death if left undetected. Ideally, aggressive prostate cancers need to be identified and treated as early as possible. But finding a cancer that would never have caused men harm during their lifetime can have a serious impact on quality of life, including the worry of a cancer diagnosis, the possibility of infection following a biopsy and impotence and incontinence following treatment.
Professor Richard Martin, lead author of the study said: “Our large study has shed light on a highly debated issue. We found that offering a single PSA test to men with no symptoms of prostate cancer does not save lives after an average follow-up of 10 years. The results highlight the multitude of issues the PSA test raises — causing unnecessary anxiety and treatment by diagnosing prostate cancer in men who would never have been affected by it and failing to detect dangerous prostate cancers. Cancer Research UK is funding work that will allow us to follow the men for at least a further five years to see whether there is any longer-term benefit on reducing prostate cancer deaths.”
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind lung cancer. About 1 man in 41 will die of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer can be a serious disease, but most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it. In fact, more than 2.9 million men in the United States who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point are still alive today.
Dr Richard Roope, Cancer Research expert, said: “The PSA test is a blunt tool missing the subtleties of the disease and causing men harm. This trial illustrated that we need to develop more accurate tools if we want to save men’s lives. We do not recommend that the PSA test should be routinely offered to men without symptoms. However, if a man is particularly worried about his risk of prostate cancer, he should have a full discussion about his risk with his doctor.”
Story Source: Read this article on ScienceDaily: Cancer Research UK. “One-off PSA screening for prostate cancer does not save lives.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180306141708.htm.
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