4-Year Prostate Cancer Screenings Are Adequate

Screening interval detects most cases of disease, study finds

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TUESDAY, Sept. 30, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Screening for prostate cancer every four years detects most cases of the disease, says a large European study in the Oct. 1 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The European Randomized Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer (ERSPC) is an ongoing randomized trial designed to determine the effect of screening on deaths from prostate cancer.

Men taking part in the intervention part of the study are screened every four years. The screening includes a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, a digital rectal exam and a transrectal ultrasound exam.

In this study, researchers looked at the rate of cancers detected between screening visits (interval cancers) among more than 17,000 men, aged 55 to 74, enrolled in the Rotterdam, Netherlands section of the ERSPC.

The rate of interval cancers can by used by researchers to determine whether screening tests are sensitive enough and whether the screening interval is appropriate.

The volunteers were divided into two groups. The men in the intervention group received two scheduled prostate cancer screenings four years apart. The men in the control group did not receive scheduled screenings.

The study found there were 18 "true" interval cancers diagnosed among men in the intervention group, compared to 135 cancers diagnosed among men in the control group.

The researchers say the findings suggest that few, if any, aggressive prostate cancers escape screening with the procedures used within the ERSPC.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about prostate cancer.

SOURCE: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, news release, Sept. 30, 2003

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