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Prostate cancer screening a waste of time, and may even make things worse
About the author: 
WDDTY Team

Prostate cancer screening is a waste of time, and it is detecting cancers that aren't even there in up to half of all cases

Prostate cancer screening is a waste of time, and it is detecting cancers that aren't even there in up to half of all cases.

The standard PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test is doubling the numbers of prostate cancer cases being detected - and so triggering therapy that can dramatically damage the quality of life of the patient - and yet hasn't made any difference to the death rate. In other words, prostate cancer is killing the same number of men as it did before PSA testing, and those who have it, but were ignorant of it, were probably better off.

Worse, the PSA test is very inaccurate, and it produces very high false-positives, sometimes up to half of all cases supposedly detected.

A new report from the American Cancer Society says PSA tests fail to meet even one of the benefits of public screening: it doesn't reduce the rate of death, it doesn't reduce the suffering of victims; and it doesn't reduce healthcare costs. In fact, the latter two are made worse by screening.

(Source: CA: Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 2009; doi: 10.3322/caac.20025).


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