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What Doctors Don't Tell You

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September 2020 (Vol. 5 Issue 6)

Regular screening for prostate cancer isn’t saving lives
About the author: 
Bryan Hubbard

Regular screening for prostate cancer isn’t saving lives image

Regular screening to catch cancer early may be good medical practice—but it doesn’t apply to prostate cancer. Men who are never screened are living as long as those who have annual check-ups, researchers have discovered.

Even men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer are as likely to be alive 15 years later as men who don’t have the cancer. If they do die in that time, it’s more likely to be due to something other than the cancer, say researchers from the University of Colorado.

They tracked the health of 76,685 men who were screened every year between 1993 and 2001, and were compared with a similar number who either opted not to be screened or had only occasional check-ups.

During the study, 244 men who weren’t screened died from prostate cancer—but so too did 255 men who had annual check-ups. And 1,933 in the screened group, and 1,882 men in the unscreened group, died from other cancers, and similar numbers died from other diseases such as heart problems.

Other studies support their conclusions. One discovered that men with a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) score that was lower than one had a 0.5 per cent chance of developing the cancer over the following 10 years.

However, there is a small sub-set of men who would benefit from regular screening. The challenge is in identifying who these men are, said lead researcher David Crawford.


(Source: Cancer, 2016; doi: 10.1002/cncr.30474)

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