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Trial Results May Have Influenced PSA Testing Trend

Prostate cancer screening has decreased slightly in recent years

MONDAY, Feb. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing of men for prostate cancer appears to have declined slightly since the 2009 publication of trials with conflicting findings on the effect of PSA testing on mortality, according to research published online Feb. 28 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Steven B. Zeliadt, Ph.D., of the VA Puget Sound Health Care System in Seattle, and colleagues examined whether PSA testing changed after the publication of the two trials, one of which indicated no mortality difference between men screened for prostate cancer and men who were not, and the other of which found a 20 percent reduction in mortality in men who were screened.

The researchers found a slight decline in PSA testing after publication of the trial results, a drop by 3 percentage points in men 40 to 55 years of age, and by 2.7 percentage points in men 55 to 74 years of age. Testing of men over the age of 75 initially declined slightly after the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issued recommendations in 2008, and continued to fall after the trial results were published.

"Our study provides a preliminary indication that patients and physicians may have interpreted the evidence from the trials negatively and responded by decreasing PSA testing rates. Future studies are needed to evaluate how patients and providers have interpreted the nuanced evidence from the trials and how this evidence has shaped their beliefs and practices regarding PSA screening for prostate cancer," the authors write.

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