Consistent PSA Screening Results In Better Prognosis

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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Recently, PSA or prostate-specific antigen, screening made headlines when a US Preventive Task Force recommended that men over the age 75 discontinue screening for prostate cancer. While there is currently no definitive data regarding improvement in survival from screening for prostate cancer using the PSA test, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have now shown that men who had been screened for a longer period of time using PSA tests were less likely to have adverse features of prostate cancer at the time of diagnosis. These results are published in the August 15, 2008 issue of Cancer.

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“While we are awaiting the results from large clinical trials, this information can be helpful to doctors and patients alike who are looking for circumstantial evidence regarding the role of PSA screening,” said Neil Martin, MD, a researcher and physician in Radiation Oncology at BWH. “This research can be added to the body of literature suggesting that screening may reduce prostate cancer deaths.”

Researchers evaluated more than 1,000 men who had been screened for prostate cancer and compared them based on treatment dates. Treatment in the form of radical prostatectomy occurred either before 1995, between 1995 and 1998 or after 1998. Martin and colleagues compared the change in PSA scores – or the PSA velocity which is of known prognostic value – for each group. They found that men who had their PSA tested routinely over longer periods of time were less likely to have adverse features associated with their prostate cancer when compared to men who had less screening. Researchers also report that over the time period in which the PSA test was available, fewer men were diagnosed with prostate cancer that had adverse features.

“While the US Preventive Task Force recommends against screening for older men, these results – and other published studies – show that PSA screening may be an effective tool in reducing the number of prostate cancer deaths,” said Anthony D’Amico, chief of Genitourinary Radiation Oncology at BWH and senior author of the paper. “PSA tests should be discussed between a man and his primary care physician while taking into consideration his overall health profile rather than his age.”

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