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PSA Test Does Cut Prostate Cancer Deaths, Study Finds
Date:7/1/2010

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, June 30 (HealthDay News) -- Adding to the ongoing debate on the usefulness of the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test for prostate cancer, new research from Sweden finds the screen cuts lives lost to the disease by almost half.

The argument over whether PSA screening saves men's lives or merely leads to the overdiagnosis of very slow-growing cancers (with attendant worry and overtreatment) has bedeviled the medical world for years.

According to recently revised guidelines from the American Cancer Society, men at average risk for prostate cancer should discuss the PSA test with their doctor, starting at age 50. For men at high risk for the disease -- blacks and men who have a father, brother or son found to have prostate cancer at an early age (before 65) -- that discussion should start at age 45.

"Because prostate cancer grows slowly, those men without symptoms of prostate cancer who do not have a 10-year life expectancy should not be offered testing since they are not likely to benefit," the society notes on its Web site.

Ambivalence over the test hasn't been confined to the United States.

"In Europe, we have been reluctant to recommend that all men get PSA testing as we have felt that there has been a lack of knowledge," agreed lead researcher Dr. Jonas Hugosson, a professor of urology at the University of Gothenburg.

However, he believes that with the results of the new 14-year study, "it feels ethically difficult not at least to inform all men over the age of 50 about PSA and its possibilities. Personally, I would recommend my friends check their PSA," Hugosson added.

The report is published in the June 30 online edition of The Lancet Oncology.

For the still-ongoing study, Hugosson randomly assigned some 20,000 men to either PSA screening once every two years or no screening. The men were between 50 and 65 at the st
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