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Study: Prostate Cancer Screening for Men Over 75 Not Recommended

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Tuesday, August 05, 2008 10:14 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: FDA & Prescription Drugs, Prostate Cancer, Cancer, Mens Health, Protecting Your Family


IMAGE SOURCE: © WikiMedia Commons/ Created by US government agency National Cancer Institute

U.S. experts advise against regular prostate cancer screenings in men 75 and older, saying the risks far outweigh the benefits for men in that age group, according to a new report published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a panel of independent experts supported by the US government, endorses three core recommendations published in the report:

» Men 75 and older should not be screened for prostate cancer.

» Men under the age of 75, with chronic medical problems, who are not expected to live another 10 years should not be screened.

» All other men should consider the potential benefits versus harms of PSA testing with their doctors before deciding if they should undergo screening.

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening is a blood test that allows the detection of prostate cancer in the early stages, before symptoms begin to develop and while the disease is still potentially curable.

“While PSA tests are effective for detecting prostate cancer, the task force found insufficient evidence that they improve long-term health outcomes,” said the American College of Physicians.

The American Cancer Society estimates more than 186,000 new cases of prostate cancer will diagnosed this year and 28,660 will die from the disease.

Prostate cancer typically progresses at a slow rate and therefore does not affect overall health or life expectancy in 29 to 44 percent of men diagnosed with the disease. But, the disease can adversely affect quality of life leading to conditions such as bowel dysfunction, urinary incontinence, and erectile dysfunction and in some cases death.

After carefully reviewing available evidence to ascertain the benefits versus harms of screening for prostate cancer, the task force could not find adequate proof that early detection leads to fewer deaths from the disease, said Ned Calonge, task force chairman.

The report adds further fuel to the controversy that has been surrounding PSA testing for years. Although testing is widely recommended, research has never definitively established its effectiveness.

The National Prostate Cancer Coalition, a patient advocacy group, says all men at risk of prostate cancer must be tested yearly, with no exceptions, according to Jamie Bearse, the organization’s CEO.

Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer in men, in the U.S., after skin cancer, and the second leading cause of death from cancer in the country, which affects one in six American men, said the report.

The agency recommends men that are concerned about prostate cancer talk with their medical doctors to make a decision based on their individual medical histories and risk factors. #

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