Saturday, January 7, 2012

PSA screening doesn't prevent cancer deaths: study

(Reuters Health) - Annual screening for prostate cancer doesn't cut men's chances of dying from the disease, according to the latest results of a large screening trial.

Comparing men who were screened each year with so-called PSA tests, for prostate specific antigen, or rectal exams to those who received their usual care, researchers found that more men in the screening group had been diagnosed with prostate cancer after 13 years -- but there was no difference in how many had died from it.

The results support a previous report by the same researchers that found no difference in deaths seven to 10 years after the screening program started.

They are also consistent with recent draft guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommending that average-risk men not undergo regular PSA screening, according to a researcher who worked on the study.

"Men, if they're considering screening, should be aware that there's a possibility that there's little or no benefit (and) that there certainly are harms to PSA screening," said study co-author Philip Prorok, from the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland.

Those harms include catching and treating small cancers that never would have been detected or caused men any problems, Prorok told Reuters Health.