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US trial shows no early mortality benefit from annual prostate cancer screening
Date:3/18/2009

The prostate cancer screening tests that have become an annual ritual for many men don't appear to reduce deaths from the disease among those with a limited life-expectancy, according to early results of a major U.S. study involving 75,000 men.

Results released today from the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial show that six years of aggressive, annual screening for prostate cancer led to more diagnoses of prostate tumors but not to fewer deaths from the disease. The study, led by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and conducted at 10 sites, will appear online March 18 in the New England Journal of Medicine (and in the journal's print edition on March 26).

"The important message is that for men with a life expectancy of seven to 10 years or less, it is probably not necessary to be screened for prostate cancer," says the study's lead author and principal investigator Gerald Andriole, M.D., chief urologic surgeon at the Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

But it's too soon, he added, to make broad screening recommendations for all men based on the study's initial findings.

"So far, only a minority of men enrolled in the PLCO study have died, so it may be premature to make generalizations about the ultimate results of the trial," he says. "We don't have enough data yet about the youngest men in the study those in their 50s and it may be that over time, we will, in fact, see a benefit from screening."

The PLCO trial began in 1992 with funding from the National Cancer Institute and was designed to determine whether prostate cancer screening reduces deaths from the disease. It involves men ages 55 to 74 who received either annual PSA blood tests and digital rectal exams or "routine care," meaning they had the screening tests only if their physicians recommended them. After seven to 10 y
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Contact: Caroline Arbanas
arbanasc@wustl.edu
314-286-0109
Washington University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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