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PSA Test Reduces Risk of Spread if Prostate Cancer Strikes
Date:10/25/2010

MONDAY, Oct. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Having a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test to screen for prostate cancer reduces the risk that if cancer develops it will spread to other parts of the body, new research indicates.

The finding adds to the ongoing debate on whether PSA screenings actually improve survival rates or, by contrast, lead to unnecessary treatment.

"Our study shows that routine screening not only improves the patient's quality of life by stopping metastatic disease, but it also decreases the burden of care for this advanced disease that must be provided by the health-care system," study author Chandana Reddy, a senior biostatistician at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, said in a news release from the American Society for Radiation Oncology.

"This demonstrates that the PSA test is extremely valuable in catching the disease earlier and allowing men to live more productive lives after treatment," Reddy said.

Reddy and his colleagues are to report their findings Monday at the American Society for Radiation Oncology annual meeting, in San Diego.

PSA tests are blood tests that have been available and widely used since 1993. They measure levels of the prostate-specific antigen protein produced by the prostate; high levels are thought to be an indication of prostate cancer.

However, critics have cautioned that some patients diagnosed with early prostate cancer are subjected to aggressive treatments -- and their unwelcome side effects, such as incontinence and erectile dysfunction -- for a disease that is often slow-moving and of no real consequence to survival if left untreated among older patients who are likely to die of other, unrelated causes.

The researchers pointed out that prostate cancer is not curable when it is caught late and has spread (or metastasized) to other parts of the body. They suggested that assessing to what degree a PSA diagnosis might reduce the risk of metastasis
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