20 May #Prostatecancerscreenings done too often – and too late!
Researchers from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre analysed blood samples from over 12,000 Swedish men in the 1970s (meaminful results from prostate cancer studies takes many years as it is in most cases a slow growing cancer) and found that nearly half the prostate cancer deaths occurred in the 10% of men who had the highest PSA levels at an early age.
[Swedish studies get my attention as they have a less integrated sample population]
What this means is if you are 45 and you have a very low PSA the chances you’re going to develop the kind of prostate cancer that kills is very small.
The chief medical officer for the American Cancer society confirmed the findings of the study.
Currently men are urged to talk to their doctors about PSA screening starting at age 50, and many men have a PSA test on a regular basis. But this study seems to suggest that men might be able to get away with less frequent tests. This is good news since frequent testing can lead to over-diagnosis – leading to radical treatment that can cause erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence.
Dr Hans Lilja – at Memorial Sloan-Kettering said “Instead of testing all men each year or every two years, screening and surveillance efforts can be focused on early detection of prostate cancer in those men who are found to be at high risk of death from the disease”
The take away message is that men should have a baseline (first) PSA blood test at an early age (40-45) and those whose PSA is very low should have less frequent subsequent PSA tests than those men with a high PSA reading.
It yet again confirms what “the red sock campaign” have been saying for years ‘ its not the limitations of the PSA test that is at fault it is the way in which it is interpreted’