Findings presented at the American Society of Therapeutic Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) reveal that yearly screening for prostate specific antigen (PSA) significantly reduces the mortality associated with prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is the second most prevalent type of cancer found in men after skin cancer. The prostate itself is a small gland in the male reproductive system, which produces some of the fluid that transports sperm during ejaculation. The PSA test measures the level of proteins that are produced and shed by the prostate. Elevated levels are seen in prostate cancer as well as some non-cancerous conditions associated with the prostate. Hence, PSA testing is not an accurate assessment of the presence or absence of cancer, but since more specific tests are not available, it happens to be the sole test that can do the screening.
Researchers from the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts conducted a clinical study to estimate the effect of PSA screening on survival among men at risk for development of prostate cancer. They tracked 1,500 men who had been diagnosed with localized prostate cancer between 1998 and 2002. It was found that men who underwent regular screening had a 65 percent chance of being diagnosed with less aggressive prostate cancer, as opposed to only 24 percent in men who had irregular screening. Also men who regularly followed up had only 3.6 percent chances of dying from prostate cancer.