FRIDAY, Jan. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Annual screening for prostate cancer doesn't save lives, finds a new study that is unlikely to quell the controversy surrounding routine prostate specific antigen (PSA) screening.
"Organized prostate cancer screening when done in addition to whatever background testing exists in the population does not result in any apparent benefit, but does result in harm from false positives and over-diagnosis," said lead researcher Philip Prorok, from the Division of Cancer Prevention at the U.S. National Cancer Institute.
"Men considering prostate cancer screening should be fully informed of the implications of such testing before making a decision," he added.
Experts have disagreed for some time on whether the blood test saves lives or results in over-diagnosis and over-treatment. The new findings, which extend prior results out to 13 years of follow-up, are published in the Jan. 6 online edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
The study followed men enrolled in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening (PLCO) Trial from 1993 to 2009, comparing results for a group of men who had undergone screening with those for men who hadn't had testing. The men were 55 to 74 years old.
One group had PSA screening every year for six years and a digital rectal examination every year for four years. The other men had regular care, which in some cases included screening if requested by the patient or doctor.
Compared to men getting usual care, the screened men had a 12 percent relative increase in prostate cancer but a slightly lower rate of high-grade cancer.
However, no difference in deaths was seen between the two groups.
This finding held true even after age, screening before the trial and other medical conditions were taken into account, the researchers said.
Prorok said that
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