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PSA Screening In Reducing Prostate Cancer Deaths

Men in their 50s may find it confusing to go through the prostate-specific antigen test (PSA) as the market offers conflicting advice on it. The test helps in measuring the protein PSA in the blood level. Having extremely high PDA levels could mean that the person has prostate cancer, but may not be the case all the time. Organizations like Preventive Services Task Force of the U.S. do not include PSA screening in the routine check-up list, whereas America Cancer Society may recommend otherwise.

Prostate Cancer

The conflicting findings were newly analysed which suggested that PSA testing does help in lowering the death rate resulting from prostate cancer. The results are useful in reducing uncertainty in the medicine department. It could also help in raising awareness regarding the best-suited candidate for undergoing a blood test, according Ruth Etzioni, senior author of the study.

The publication of the analysis took place in 4th September in a journal called Annals of Internal Medicine.

The new analysis was able to provide strong evidence proving that screening will help in lowering the death risk for prostate cancer by 32 percent, as compared to no screening at all.

Two Trials

Two trails that took place are Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial (PLCO) in the U.S. and European Randomized Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer (ERSPC) in several countries of Europe. The latter found that PSA screening could lower the chances of death by 21 percent, whereas the former could not establish any link between PSA screening and lowered death risk.

As the two trails were conducted in different countries, the difference in the results could stem from that. Even the screening was done in different frequencies in the two trails (one was done annually and the other was done after every two or four years).

Andrew Vicker, a research methodologist present at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center mentioned that the U.S. study had high contamination levels.

Medical considerations also brought out the dilemma surrounding prostate cancer and PSA screening. The test may be helpful in detecting the cancer early, but as most prostate cancers are slow-growing in nature, it might never spread. Vicker also says that the test will not be useful for men who are above 70 years of age because they might expire because of other reasons even before the prostate cancer could become dangerous.

Treating prostate cancer is easy, but the treatment can bring about side effects, like bowel dysfunction, erectile dysfunction, and urinary inconsistence. PSA screenings are not completely reliable as the results may show high protein levels even when the person is having an infection. Therefore, the test has the potential to cause unnecessary fear and anxiety.

New Analysis

Etzioni along with her team make use of computer modelling to analyse the two trails. The study could find that the results of the two trails would have been similar if the screening rates would have been similar in both the trials, according to Vickers.

Vickers also mentioned that some other small research studies were able to conclude PSA tests are effective in detecting prostate cancer.