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PSA screening

PSA Screening Pointless for Most Men Over 75

Friday, May 15, 2009 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: PSA screening, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) Regular prostate screening provides no benefit for the majority of men over the age of 75 and should be discontinued, according to a study conducted by researchers from Johns Hopkins University and published in the Journal of Urology.

Because many prostate tumors are very slow growing, many men who develop prostate cancer late in life end up dying from other causes before the disease can significantly affect them. This was the rationale behind the 2008 call by prostate experts for an end to the regular screening of men over the age of 75.

"For the overwhelming majority of men over age 75, discontinuing PSA screening is probably a very safe thing to do," researcher H. Ballentine Carter said.

In the current study, researchers reviewed the data on 849 men over the age of 75 who were taking part in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study on Aging, conducted by the National Institutes of Health study on aging. They found that for the two-thirds of men with a prostate specific antigen (PSA) level lower than three nanograms per milliliter, there was no benefit in continuing PSA screening -- not a single man in that group died of prostate cancer.

Elevated PSA levels are considered a reliable marker of an enlarged or cancerous prostate; levels also increase when prostate tumors spread. An elevated PSA level is usually cause for a doctor ordering a biopsy.

The researchers did find, however, that continued screening provided a benefit for the one-third of men over the age of 75 who had a PSA reading of three or higher.

"What we found was that at any age, men with a PSA greater than three, their risk of prostate cancer, and even an aggressive prostate cancer, during the remaining years of their life continues to increase," Carter said.

"We need to identify where we should best focus our health care dollars by concentrating on patients who can actually benefit from PSA testing," lead researcher Edward Schaeffer says. "These findings give a very strong suggestion of when we can start to counsel patients on when to stop testing."

Sources for this story include: www.reuters.com; www.sciencedaily.com.

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