Before the programme was introduced, prostate cancer death rates in the Tyrol were similar to the rest of the country, but after the programme was launched the death rate in the Tyrol started falling by an average of 7.3 per cent a year, more than twice the 3.2 per cent observed in the rest of Austria.
The findings also have important implications for age-related prostate cancer deaths, say the researchers, especially as the number of older men is steadily increasing.
Deaths from prostate cancer in the 80 plus age group have been increasing across Austria, but there has been no evidence of this happening in the Tyrol says co-author Professor Boyle from the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
This indicates that the screening programme in the Tyrol is picking up cases of prostate cancer at an earlier stage of the disease, when it can be treated more effectively. This early treatment reduces the risk of the disease coming back later in life and killing the patient when they are older.
The authors conclude that the introduction of free screening has made an important contribution to reducing prostate cancer death rates in the Tyrol, a region where treatment is freely available to all patients with the disease.
But they acknowledge that there is still controversy surrounding some aspects of screening for prostate cancer that need to be resolved.
These include the effectiveness of PSA testing in all cases, whether aggressive treatment alters the outcome in men with advanced stages of the disease and whether testing and treatment seriously impinge quality of life.
Our study shows that when widespread PSA testing was introduced to the Tyrol, and people with the disease received free treatment to cure their prostate cancer, the fall in death rates was significantly higher than in the rest of Austria says Professor Boyle.
This reduction in death rates is most probably due to th
|Contact: Annette Whibley|