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Longer wait for prostate exams OK?

September 03, 2007|From Times Wire Reports

A large study from Europe suggests it doesn't hurt to wait a few years between prostate cancer screenings.

Millions of U.S. men have their blood tested every year for prostate-specific antigen (PSA). But high PSA levels can mean cancer or just an enlarged prostate; only a biopsy can tell. Moreover, prostate cancer usually is slow-growing, and there's little way to predict which early-stage tumors will threaten life. Because treatment can cause incontinence or impotence, PSA testing may do more harm than good for some men.

Dutch scientists decided to see if skipping a few years mattered. They tracked 4,200 Swedish men tested every two years, and 13,300 Dutch men tested every four years. More frequent testing spotted more tumors but didn't reduce diagnosis of aggressive tumors that formed between visits, researchers reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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