Sunday, 2 September 2007

Less frequent prostate screening may be ok, says European study

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Frequent screening for prostate cancer found more tumors overall, but failed to cut the number of aggressive tumors detected according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. This study further fuels the controversy over the value of screening tests for this cancer and how frequently such tests should be performed.

The researchers write that yearly PSA testing may lead to prostate cancer diagnoses that may be "clinically insignificant." The American Cancer Society currently recommends doctors offer the PSA test or digital rectal exam, annually, to men starting at age 50. The goal is to catch the tumors early on when they are easiest to treat.

However, according to the lead author of this study, Monique Roobol, such frequent screening may also detect minor tumors that may pose no threat but end up receiving aggressive treatment.

Screening in Europe is generally less frequent than here in the U.S., roughly every four years at the institutions that took part in this study.

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