Age Could Alter PSA Readings

Men under 70 may need different criterion for spotting prostate cancer, study suggests

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FRIDAY, Feb. 24, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Doctors have long used prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing to spot the early signs of prostate cancer. But a new study suggests that men 70 years of age and younger require a different PSA criterion for diagnosing prostate cancer than older men.

Researchers at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., analyzed the medical records of nearly 12,000 men and found that one criterion -- how quickly the PSA level is rising -- needs to be set at a lower threshold for men under 70.

The current threshold for PSA velocity (PSAV) is 0.75 ng/ml/yr. This means that if a man's PSA level increases more than 0.75 in one year, he should consider a biopsy for prostate cancer. However, this study concluded that using that PSAV criterion prevented doctors from diagnosing prostate cancer in men younger than 70.

The optimal PSVA threshold for men under 60 is 0.4 ng/ml/yr and 0.6 ng/ml/yr for men between 60 and 70, the researchers concluded.

"Finding that PSA velocity is more effective when it is age-adjusted is very important, especially since the oldest of the Baby Boomers turn 60 this year," study lead author Dr. Judd W. Moul, chief of urologic surgery at Duke, said in a prepared statement.

"In the past few years, 60 or younger has become the peak age for prostate cancer diagnosis. Using PSAV makes it much more likely that we will detect cancers in men of this age," Moul said.

The findings were to be presented Friday at the Prostate Cancer Symposium in San Francisco.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about prostate cancer screening.

SOURCE: Duke University, news release, Feb. 24, 2006

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