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Don't Blame the PSA Test for the 'Overtreatment' of Prostate Cancer

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 Cancer News J E 4
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Early Detection Pays Off, as the PSA Test is to Men what the Mammogram is to Women

WASHINGTON, July 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new report published in the July 26 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine claims many men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer undergo aggressive therapy, even when they have low PSA scores and low-risk disease, saying "these results underscore the fact that PSA level, the current biomarker, is not a sufficient basis for treatment decisions."

"When it comes to 'overtreatment,' the PSA test is not to blame - it's what happens next," said Skip Lockwood, ZERO's CEO. "Low-risk or not, many men choose to undergo aggressive treatment to eliminate the cancer from their bodies and their conscience, rather than simply monitoring the disease throughout their lives. Some doctors and patients are too quick to rush to treatment rather than carefully determine the risks and benefits of various procedures."

Plus, the proof is in the science - the PSA test saves lives. The authors of the new report even point out themselves "the tremendous improvement in survival has been attributed to early detection and treatment." Because of early detection, 90 percent of patients are diagnosed before the cancer spreads beyond the prostate and nearly 100 percent of those patients survive at least five years. The National Cancer Institute has acknowledged the PSA test cuts the prostate cancer mortality rate by nearly 50 percent, and the Goteborg (Sweden) Randomized Population-Based Prostate Cancer Screening Trial has shown the risk of over-diagnosis has been blown out of proportion for some time and is actually less than previously thought, with just 12 men needed to be diagnosed to save one man's life.

"Bottom line, the PSA test is to men what the mammogram is to women. Even with its inability to distinguish indolent prostate cancer from aggressive cases, the PSA test is till the best tool available today for detecting prostate cancer. So instead of pointing out its flaws, we should be working on ways to make it better," said Lockwood.

SOURCE ZERO - The Project to End Prostate Cancer
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