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Screening the over-50s for prostate cancer doesn’t make any difference, say researchers

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Doctors are getting it wrong – men who are 50 years and older don’t benefit from regular prostate cancer screening, a new study has concluded.
Most of the cancers are growing so slowly that their detection doesn’t make any difference to how long the men will live.
The new study goes against current medical thinking, which recommends that all men over the age of 50 should be screened regularly, and possibly every year.
Instead, say researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine, only men in their 40s should have a one-off PSA test. Those with a low PSA score are very unlikely to develop lethal prostate cancer, and so probably don’t need to be screened again.
They based their recommendation on a study of more than 76,000 men, aged between 55 and 74, who were screened annually for six years. Although regular screening picked up more prostate tumours, there was no difference in the rate of deaths between those screened and other men who had not been screened.
Even men diagnosed with prostate cancer who had a history of heart disease, strokes, diabetes, other cancers or lung or liver disease were far more likely to die from one of the other conditions.
(Source: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2012; doi: 10.1093/jnci/djr500).

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Article Topics: Cancer
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