Earlier PSA Test Best Predicts Risk of Dying From
Prostate Cancer: Study05/19/11
WEDNESDAY, May 18 (HealthDay News) -- The results of a first
prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test for males between the ages of
44 and 50 can predict the risk of dying of prostate cancer within
the next 25 to 30 years, according to a new study.
Researchers analyzed blood samples collected from 12,090 Swedish
men between 1974 and 1986 when they were ages 44 to 50, samples
from nearly 5,000 of the men six years later when they were ages 51
to 55, and samples from 1,167 men who were 60.
Men who had PSA levels below the median when they were 44 to 50
had a very low risk of prostate cancer death or metastases within
15 years. By age 60, for those men with PSA levels below the
median, the risk of prostate cancer had decreased significantly to
Although current American Cancer Society guidelines suggest all
but high-risk men should discuss screening with their doctor at age
50, the study authors say their results indicate earlier testing
could reduce unnecessary screening later on.
The findings suggest that more than half of men could forego
regular PSA testing after that time and have just three PSA tests
in their lifetime, with the first one between the ages of 44 and
50, the second between ages 51 and 55, and -- if their PSA levels
are still low -- the third and last at age 60, said the researchers
at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
However, men with higher PSA levels between the ages of 44 and
50 are at high risk for aggressive prostate cancer and should
continue to undergo PSA tests and screening as necessary, the
The study was slated to be presented to journalists today May 18
as part of the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical
"This research helps us distinguish between those men who may benefit from regular PSA screening for prostate cancer and those men who may not need to be screened so frequently," lead author Dr. Hans Lilja, a clinical chemist with joint appointments in the Departments of Laboratory Medicine, Surgery, and Medicine, said in a Memorial Sloan-Kettering news release.
"Instead of testing all men each year or every two years, screening and surveillance efforts can be focused on early detection of prostate cancer in those men who are found to be at high risk of death from the disease."
PSA testing is recommended for early detection of prostate
cancer but is associated with a high rate of overdiagnosis and
overtreatment, which is a concern because prostate cancer treatment
can lead to debilitating erectile and urinary problems.
Because the study is being presented at a medical meeting, its
results should be considered preliminary until published in a
The American Cancer Society has more about
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