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Researchers find many elderly men are undergoing unnecessary PSA screenings
Date:3/28/2011

A new study on the use of prostate-specific antigen (PSA)-based prostate cancer screening in the United States found that many elderly men may be undergoing unnecessary prostate cancer screenings. Using data from surveys conducted in 2000 and 2005, researchers report that nearly half of men in their seventies underwent PSA screening in the past year almost double the screening rate of men in their early fifties, who are more likely to benefit from early prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment. Further, men aged 85 and older were screened just as often as men in their early fifties.

Because prostate cancer tends to be slow-growing, data show that many men particularly those in their seventies and older will die of other causes before prostate cancer becomes a problem that requires medical attention. The new findings underscore a long-standing concern that overuse of PSA screening and PSA-based treatment decisions may lead to unnecessary treatment of many older men and potential complications such as incontinence, impotence and bowel dysfunction.

"Our findings show a high rate of elderly and sometimes ill men being inappropriately screened for prostate cancer. We're concerned these screenings may prompt cancer treatment among elderly men who ultimately have a very low likelihood of benefitting the patient and paradoxically can cause more harm than good," said senior author Scott Eggener, MD, assistant professor of surgery at the University of Chicago. "We were also surprised to find that nearly three-quarters of men in their fifties were not screened within the past year. These results emphasize the need for greater physician interaction and conversations about the merits and limitations of prostate cancer screening for men of all ages."

While large declines in prostate cancer metastases and death rates in the last 20 years coincide with widespread use of PSA-based screening, questions remain about its use. Data have been unclear ab
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Contact: Kelly Powell
kelly.powell@asco.org
571-483-1365
American Society of Clinical Oncology
Source:Eurekalert

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