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PSA Screening Predicted by Age, Life Expectancy

Screening may be excessive in older men who have low life expectancies

TUESDAY, March 29 (HealthDay News) -- Age and life expectancy are strong predictors of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening, which appears to be administered excessively to older men with limited life expectancy, according to research published online March 28 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Michael W. Drazer, of the University of Chicago Medical Center, and colleagues examined data from the 2000 and 2005 National Health Interview Survey to determine the rates and predictors of PSA screening in older men in the United States. They defined PSA screening as a PSA test as part of a routine examination in the past year.

The researchers found that screening rates increased steadily with age, from 24 percent in men aged 50 to 54 to a peak of 45.5 percent in men aged 70 to 74. Rates then declined gradually, with those aged 85 and older having a rate of 24.6 percent. Rates varied by five-year life expectancy estimates in men aged 70 and older, from 30.7 percent in men with low life expectancy to 47.3 percent in men with high life expectancy.

"Rates of PSA screening in the United States are associated with age and estimated life expectancy, but excessive PSA screening in elderly men with limited life expectancies remains a significant problem. The merits and limitations of PSA should be discussed with all patients considering prostate cancer screening," the authors write.

One author disclosed financial relationships with pharmaceutical and medical technology companies.

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