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Mass prostate cancer screening doesn't reduce deaths
Date:1/6/2012

There's new evidence that annual prostate cancer screening does not reduce deaths from the disease, even among men in their 50s and 60s and those with underlying health conditions, according to new research led by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

A longer follow-up of more than 76,000 men in a major U.S. study shows that six years of aggressive, annual screening for prostate cancer led to more diagnoses of tumors but not to fewer deaths from the disease.

The updated results of the Prostate, Lung, Cancer, Colorectal and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial will be published online Jan. 6 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

"The data confirm that for most men, it is not necessary to be screened annually for prostate cancer," says the study's lead author and principal investigator Gerald Andriole, MD, chief urologic surgeon at the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine. "A large majority of the cancers we found are slow-growing tumors that are unlikely to be deadly."

The PLCO study involved men ages 55 to 74, who were randomly assigned to receive either annual PSA tests for six years and digital rectal exams for four years or "routine care," meaning they had the screening tests only if their physicians recommended them.

The new research updates an earlier report of the data published in 2009 in the New England Journal of Medicine. At that time, when nearly all men had been followed for seven years, Andriole and his colleagues did not find a mortality benefit from prostate cancer screening.

But because so few men in the study had died from any causes, the researchers said then that it would be premature to make broad generalizations about whether men should continue to be screened. However, they did recommend against prostate cancer screening for men with a life expectancy of seven to 10 years or less.

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Contact: Caroline Arbanas
arbanasc@wustl.edu
314-286-0109
Washington University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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