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PSA Test for Prostate Cancer Should be Dropped, Task Force Says

from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

The PSA test should be abandoned as a prostate cancer screening tool, a government advisory panel has concluded after determining that the side effects from needless biopsies and treatments hurt many more men than are potentially helped by early detection of cancers.

At best, one life will be saved for every 1,000 men screened over a 10-year period, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. But 100 to 120 men will have suspicious results when there is no cancer, triggering biopsies that can carry complications such as pain, fever, bleeding, infection and hospitalization. And if cancer is detected, 90% of men will be treated with surgery or radiation even though most tumors are not life-threatening.

Of 1,000 screened men, as many as 40 will suffer impotence or urinary incontinence as a side effect of treatment, two will have heart attacks or strokes and one will develop a dangerous blood clot in the legs or lungs, the task force concluded after a review of the scientific literature. As many as five of 1,000 men who undergo surgery will die within a month.

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