Prostate Cancer Deaths Not Reduced by Screening in Long Term Study


A new study published in the British Medical Journal and based upon a 20 year study concluded that screening does not significantly reduce deaths from prostate cancer and there may be potential harm and costs to men due to overdetection and overtreatment.

In this study begun in 1987, 9,026 men between the ages of 50 and 69 were randomly divided into subjects (1,494), and controls (7,532).
For the first two segments of the study screening involved digital exams only. Beginning in 1993, the PSA screening test was added to the digital rectal exam. During the fourth segment only men under age 69 at the time of the investigation were studied.

Results showed 85 cases (5.7%) of prostate cancer diagnosed in the subjects (screening group) and 292 (3.9%) in the control group. Researchers found that the tumors in the subjects were smaller and more often localized that in the control group. However, analysis did not show a significant difference in the overall survival or length of survival in the two groups. The authors believe men should be informed about potential hazards of treatment and the psychological effects of false positive test results before being screened for prostate cancer. More information is available at:

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