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Panel's Rejection of PSA Test Spurs Mixed Reaction From Experts
Date:10/8/2011

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Oct. 7 (HealthDay News) -- News that a key government advisory panel will give a thumbs-down next week to a controversial blood test for prostate cancer is garnering both praise and condemnation from experts.

A draft report due out early next week from the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) will recommend that healthy men forego regular prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing aimed at spotting prostate cancer, the The New York Times and other media outlets reported Friday.

The USPSTF is the same independent group of medical experts that caused a firestorm in late 2009 when they ruled against the use of annual mammographies for average-risk women in their 40s.

The PSA test has been similarly controversial, since its overall benefit in saving mens' lives has been challenged by a number of studies. Among the reasons the USPSTF cited in rejecting the PSA test is that the screen does not save lives and instead can result in unnecessary treatments that can leave men with discomfort, impotence and incontinence.

According to the Times, the task force focused on the results of five trials, the two largest done in Europe and in the United States. The European trial included 182,000 men. Over nine years of follow-up, it found no reduction in deaths due to prostate cancer among men of all ages in the study who were underwent PSA testing. But it did find some reduction in deaths among men aged 55 to 69 who got the blood test.

The American trial, involving almost 77,000 men followed for over a decade, also failed to show an overall reduction in deaths among all the men who were screened.

"Unfortunately, the evidence now shows that this test does not save men's lives," Dr. Virginia Moyer, a professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine and chairwoman of the task force, told the Times. "This test cannot tell the diffe
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