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Prostate Cancer Screening: Do Benefits Outweight Risks?


Screening for prostate cancer could reduce deaths from the disease by about one-fifth, according to long-term results of a European study involving over 162,000 men. Despite this new evidence for the efficacy of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing, the authors question whether the benefits of screening outweigh the harms, and recommend against routine PSA screening programs.

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Source: Schröder et al., The Lancet, published online at

“The results are not surprising given previous reports and updates from the individual participating centres that the study data was collected from over the past 13 years. The key findings indicate that screening can reduce death from prostate cancer, but the risk of over-detection and over-treatment is considered too high to roll out a national screening program.

“In the last 20 years, Australia has seen a huge increase (275%) in the number of men diagnosed with prostate cancer. A recent Cancer Council NSW study found that 75% of men treated for localised prostate cancer suffer severe and persistent impotence, a clear reminder of the consequences of detecting and treating this disease in men who may not have a lethal form of the disease.

“Until further evidence is available and a more stringent screening process determined, Cancer Council NSW recommends that men discuss prostate cancer with their doctors from age 50 (age 40 if they have a family history) and decide whether they wish to be tested based on their own circumstances and how they weigh up their own risks and benefits. This consultation process ought to be an extensive one, with medical professionals advising men of screening and treatment options and their possible...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.