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More intense PSA screening lowers prostate cancer mortality

Harold Mandel's picture
A sick man

Prostate cancer can be a devastating condition if not detected and treated early. As men age concerns about prostate cancer begin to emerge. News about good nutrition and exercise possibly being effective in preventing this cancer and slowing down its progression has raised a lot of interest among men. The benefits of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing for prostate cancer, although controversial, has also raised a great deal of interest.

The effect of PSA screening on prostate cancer mortality has remained controversial, in spite of evidence of its value from randomized trials, reported the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Researchers have investigated the association which exists between prostate cancer incidence, reflecting uptake of PSA testing, and mortality from prostate cancer. They concluded that the lower prostate cancer mortality which was seen in high-incidence counties, which reflected a high PSA uptake, has suggested that more-intense as opposed with less-intense opportunistic PSA screening lowers prostate cancer mortality.

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The bottom line is PSA-testing and early treatment lowers the risk of prostate cancer death, reports Umea University. Mortality in men suffering from prostate cancer was found to be lower in areas with frequent use of PSA testing in comparison to areas with little testing. Researchers worked together from Umeå University in Sweden and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, on this study.

Pär Stattin, lead investigator of the study, said, “Our results show that prostate cancer mortality was 20 percent lower in counties with the highest incidence of prostate cancer, indicating an early and rapid uptake of PSA testing, compared with counties with a slow and late increase in PSA testing." And so support for the value of PSA testing to lower prostate cancer mortality has been mounting. Håkan Jonsson statistician and senior author of the study has explained that because the difference in the number of men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer is associated with how many men undergo PSA testing, PSA testing and early treatment appears to be associated to a modest decrease in the risk of prostate cancer death.

However, Stattin has pointed out that the decrease in mortality for prostate cancer seen with PSA testing is offset by overtreatment and side effects from early treatment. The risk of overtreatment is greatly increased by PSA testing, due to the early treatment of cancers that would never have surfaced clinically. Furthermore, it is known that after surgery for prostate cancer most men have compromised erectile function and a small group of men suffer from urinary incontinence. Stattin concludes it is necessary to search for refined methods of PSA testing and improved prostate cancer treatment strategies.

I have observed deep seated fears about prostate cancer among aging men which has lead to an increased interest in the potential for natural remedies to help deal with this problem. Suggestions from various reports that increased green tea, ginseng, and lycopene in the diet along with increased exercise may be beneficial for prevention have been welcomed by many men. The issue of PSA testing to help increase longevity in prostate cancer victims remains controversial in the minds of many patients. I suggest patients discuss the best course of action for the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer with experts in natural health care and urologists. A complementary approach to this problem appears to offer the most promise.