Eliminating the PSA test to screen for prostate cancer would be taking a big step backwards and would likely result in rising numbers of men with metastatic cancer at the time of diagnosis, predicted a University of Rochester Medical Center analysis published in the journal, Cancer.
The URMC study suggests that the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test and early detection may prevent up to 17,000 cases of metastatic prostate cancer a year. Data shows, in fact, that if age-specific pre-PSA era incidence rates were to occur in the present day, the number of men whose cancer had already spread at diagnosis would be three times greater.
"Our findings are very important in light of the recent controversy over PSA testing," said Edward M. Messing, M.D., study co-author, chair of Urology at URMC, and president of the Society of Urologic Oncology. "Yes, there are trade-offs associated with the PSA test and many factors influence the disease outcome. And yet our data are very clear: not doing the PSA test will result in many men presenting with far more advanced prostate cancer. And almost all men with metastasis at diagnosis will die from prostate cancer."
Prostate cancer usually occurs in older men, and is the second leading cause of cancer death in the male population. In 2012 an estimated 241,740 new cases will be diagnosed and 28,000 deaths will occur. Prognosis depends on whether the cancer has spread outside the prostate gland, and the degree to which the cancer cells are abnormal.
In 2011 the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommended against PSA screening in all men, prompting criticism from the medical community. The government panel reviewed scientific evidence and concluded that screening has little or no benefit, or that the harms of early detection outweigh the benefits. One major concern, for example, was that doctors are screening for, finding, and treating non-aggressive cancers that might have remained quiet, causin
|Contact: Leslie Orr|
University of Rochester Medical Center