Unnecessary PSA Screening for Prostate Cancer for Elderly Men According to Recent Research


A new study reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology concluded that many elderly men in the United States may be undergoing unnecessary PSA testing for prostate cancer. Using survey data from 2000 and 2005 Researchers found that almost 1/2 of all men in their seventies underwent PSA screening for prostate cancer in the past year, and that was almost double the rate for men in their early fifties who were more likely to benefit from screening and treatment. In addition, men age 85 and older were screened as often as men in their early fifties. However, it is know from research that prostate cancer is slow growing and men, especially in their seventies and older, will die of other causes before prostate cancer becomes a problem and requires treatment.
In the study, data collected included information on age, smoking, mass-body index, underlying medical conditions, and other factors, and the researchers calculated the estimated five year life-expectancy of each man over 4o who had received a PSA test. All subjects were divided into 5 years groups starting with 70-74, and additionally including 75-79, 80-84, and 85 and older. There were 2, 623 men in these groups (subjects) and almost 12,000 men between age 40 and 69 served as controls.

The overall PSA screening rate within the past year for men age 40 and over was 23.7% in 2000 and 26 % in 2005. The rates were lowest in the 40 to 44 age group (7.5%) and highest in the 70 to 74 age group (45.5%). At age 85 and older the rate was 24.6%. Researchers concluded that “a high rate of elderly and sometimes ill men are being inappropriately screened for prostate cancer. We are concerned these screenings may prompt cancer treatment among elderly men who ultimately have a very low likelihood of benefiting the patient and paradoxically can cause more harm than good.” “We were also surprised to find that nearly three-quarters of men in their fifties were not screened within the past year.”

More information on this study can be found at:

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