Modern screening techniques are responsible for over-diagnosing prostate cancer, and which has resulted in more than 1 million men being treated unnecessarily.
Prostate-antigen screening, or PSA, has over-diagnosed around 1.3 million men since its introduction in 1987. As a result, "all over-diagnosed patients are needlessly exposed to the hassle factors of obtaining treatment, the financial implications of the diagnosis, and the anxieties associated with becoming a cancer patient," says researcher H Gilbert Welch, from the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice.
Since the introduction of PSA, the number of men aged between 50 and 59 diagnosed with prostate cancer has trebled, while seven times more men aged below 50 have also been diagnosed.
Otis W Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, says that prostate cancer screening has surged in the last 20 years, and yet there is little evidence that it has actually saved lives.
(Source: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2009; published online: August 31, 2009).