Different Studies Have Differing Results

Debating PSA Testing for Prostate Cancer

By Tom McIntyre

Debating PSA Testing for Prostate Cancer

July 15, 2010 Updated Apr 20, 2009 at 5:12 PM CDT

One in six men are diagnosed with prostate cancer.

But there's an even big question about whether healthy men should get PSA tests to screen for it.

The test does save lives.

New studies say for every life saved, dozens more men may be misdiagnosed or exposed to harmful side effects.

That's according to a study done in Europe recently.

Mitch Laurance is a six year prostate cancer survivor, and despite concerns about the psa test, he thinks every man should at least consider it.

"Men are hesitant to go ahead and get tested now. The last thing that I wanna see is that they hear this and say 'Oh, see I'm not gonna have a PSA test.", Laurance says.

Most major medical groups don't recommend routine psa tests in healthy men.

The U.S National Cancer Institute study found men who got the PSA or a digital rectal exam lived no longer than those who didn't.

But, in Europe, a study showed that prostate screening reduced deaths by 20 percent.

But for every life saved, 47 patients suffered needless biopsies and side effects

Prostate cancer can be deadly... But not all types are harmful.
Many men live and die with slow-growing cancers that don't need treatment.

But screening tests can't tell the difference.

Dr. Joseph Banno of Midwest Urological in Peoria said, of the European study: "That may happen in England, but I don't see that in Central Illinois. Our biopsy infection rate is one and a half percent...and that's much lower than European literature."

Researchers are working on it. More specific blood tests...and pin-point imaging for men... Like mammograms detect breast cancer in women.

Dr. Banno says he believed the next step is to develop different molecular models-which show which cancer will be aggressive and which one isn't.

Another researched said that kind of specific testing is no more than five years away, but significant government investment is needed to make progress on the testing.

They're hoping for 500 million of the stimulus money set aside for research.

In the meantime... The decision about whether to test psa is left up to
patients and their doctors.

Dr. Banno says, there are some men who definitely need to get tested on a regular basis :"African-Americans over the age of 40 should get screened on a regular basis. If the incidence is one in nine in Caucasians, it's two in nine in African Americans.
Patients which a family history should be screened after the age of 40"

The USA's biggest gathering of urological specialists is taking place in Chicago this month...and we'll be reporting any medical breakthroughs or announcements...