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Study: Annual PSA screening doesn't reduce prostate cancer deaths

January 06, 2012|By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • PSA screening has not been shown to reduce mortality rates in men with prostate cancer, a new study says.
PSA screening has not been shown to reduce mortality rates in men with prostate… (Adam Gault / Digital Vision/…)

Prostate cancer screening doesn't appear to do men much good, according to a study published online Friday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The study updates findings from the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial, which began in November 1993 (follow-up lasted through December 2009). Men who participated in the intervention group were tested for prostate-specific antigen -- an exam known as PSA screening -- annually for six years and had an annual digital rectal exam for four years. Men enrolled in the control group received their usual medical care, whatever form that took.

Based on the men's outcomes after 13 years, the researchers found that 12% more prostate cancer was found in the intervention group, but that there wasn't any statistically significant difference in death rates between the two groups.

It seems that increasingly effective cancer treatments may prolong men's lives enough that the men often die from other causes, rather than the cancer itself.

For more on the controversy around PSA screening, check out The Times' story on the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force's recommendation against PSA screening back in October, by Shari Roan and Eryn Brown.

Follow me on Twitter @LAT_aminakhan.

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