Survival of the men in the study was lower than the national average for men with advanced prostate cancer, Reese also found. The median survival was 18 months -- half of the men lived longer -- and less than 10 percent lived three years past the diagnosis.
In comparison, 29 percent of men with advanced disease, overall, live at least five years after diagnosis, Reese said.
Two factors predicted better survival among the 71 men, Reese said. Men under age 60 at diagnosis and those whose PSA declined to less than 1 ng/mL after treatment did better.
"The public hospital today gives you a snapshot of what it was like before PSA screenings," Reese said.
The study results do not surprise Dr. Scott Eggener, an associate professor of surgery at the University of Chicago. "Undoubtedly, a good portion of these men could have had their lives saved by PSA screening," he said.
"If you show up with a PSA of over 100, you have incurable prostate cancer," Eggener said.
This year, the American Cancer Society expects about 239,000 new cases of prostate cancer to be diagnosed in the United States and more than 29,000 deaths from the disease.
For those on Medicare, an annual PSA test is covered.
Research presented at medical meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
To learn more about prostate cancer, visit the American Cancer Society.
SOURCES: Scott Eggener, M.D., associate professor, surgery, University of Chicago; Je
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