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Prostate screening gets it wrong nearly half the time

MagazineOctober 2002 (Vol. 13 Issue 7)Prostate screening gets it wrong nearly half the time

Increased prostate screening is causing a wrong diagnosis in up to 44 per cent of men, a new report has discovered

Increased prostate screening is causing a wrong diagnosis in up to 44 per cent of men, a new report has discovered.


The findings question the wisdom of routine prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests as they can lead to radical, and dangerous, surgery for a cancer that many men will die with, rather than from.


The researchers found that PSA screening causes overdiagnosis in about 29 per cent of white men and 44 per cent of black men. And those cancers that had been correctly detected by PSA would have been discovered clinically.


The controversial findings, prepared by Dr Ruth Etzioni at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, were based on comparisons between prostate cancer rates before and since screening became so prevalent.


Before PSA, the probability of a prostate diagnosis was 9 per cent for all men whereas prostate cancer is now detected in 36 per cent of white men and 29 per cent of black men.


PSA detects 15 per cent of latent tumours that would otherwise have shown up only at post-mortem examination (J Natl Cancer Inst, 2002; 94: 981-90).


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