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

ears of follow up, deaths from prostate cancer were very low in both groups and did not differ significantly between the groups.

Health guidelines issued last year by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommend against prostate cancer screening for men age 75 or older and concluded there is insufficient evidence to assess the balance of benefits and harms of prostate cancer screening in men younger than 75. However, the American Urological Association and the American Cancer Society recommend annual prostate cancer screening tests beginning at age 50 for most men.

More than 186,000 U.S. men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year, and nearly 29,000 will die from the disease, according to the National Cancer Institute. PSA blood tests, introduced in 1988, have increasingly been used as a screening tool for prostate cancer, despite a lack of evidence showing they reduce death rates from disease.

The controversy over prostate cancer screening has arisen because most men who undergo a biopsy for an abnormal PSA test do not have prostate cancer. For those who have cancer, the tumors generally grow so slowly that most men die of other causes. Furthermore, prostate cancer treatment can result in incontinence and impotence. However, some tumors can be aggressive, and the difficulty has been distinguishing aggressive cancers from those that are slow growing.

"We definitely need to find better ways to detect and treat aggressive tumors, those that are truly life-threatening, so that men with slow-growing tumors can avoid unnecessary treatments," says Andriole.

Today's results are the first to detail death rates from prostate cancer among men in the PLCO study and are being released to coincide with the presentation of the data at the European Association of Urology meeting in Stockholm, Sweden.

The PLCO data are being made public now because the study's Data and Safety Monitoring Board, an independent r
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Contact: Caroline Arbanas
arbanasc@wustl.edu
314-286-0109
Washington University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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