Early Prostate Screening May Save Lives

PSA blood test cuts risk of aggressive cancer by 35 percent, study found

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FRIDAY, July 8, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Early prostate specific antigen (PSA) screening may reduce men's risk of aggressive, metastatic prostate cancer by as much as 35 percent, University of Toronto researchers report.

This type of early blood testing has been "quite controversial. There are many arguments both for and against the efficacy of this form of early screening," Vivek Goel, one of the study's senior authors and professor of public health sciences and health policy management and evaluation, said in a prepared statement.

Reporting in the August issue of the Journal of Urology, the research team pored over medical records, comparing the PSA testing histories of 236 men with advanced metastatic prostate cancer with those of 462 randomly selected control patients.

They found early PSA testing associated with a more than one-third decline (35 percent) in metastatic prostate cancer risk.

"Our study shows a fairly significant benefit, and this benefit is demonstrated even among men who were not screened regularly as part of a screening program. There may be greater benefit from an organized screening program," Goel said.

Goel and fellow researcher Jacek Kopec, both public health epidemiologists, said they were surprised by the level of protective effect provided by early PSA screening.

"What usually happens with tests like these is that clinicians tend to be very supportive while public health people tend to be more cautious," Kopec said in a prepared statement.

"The clinical members of our study team feel that these findings are confirming what they had believed all along; we were a bit more surprised," he said. "A 35 percent difference is quite a large amount so from our perspective it is quite a significant link in the chain supporting that early prostate screening has a positive effect."

More information

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

SOURCE: University of Toronto, news release, July 8, 2005

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