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Male cancer screening may save lives

Thursday July 1st, 2010

Prostate cancer screening has been controversial - but a new study today says it can halve death rates of men from the disease.

Critics say screening leads to over-diagnosis of the disease, meaning that some men face unnecessary treatment and anxiety.

The new Swedish study, involved some 20,000 men, found that 12 people had to be diagnosed in order to save one life.

Researchers studied the benefits of testing men aged between 50 and 65, checking death rates from prostate cancer over 14 years.

Half the men were given screening and some 1,138 of these were diagnosed with the disease. Just 718 of the 10,000 who were not screened were given a cancer diagnosis, they report in The Lancet Oncology.

The researchers, led by Professor Jonas Hugosson, from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, suggest screening might benefit men in their 60s.

They said today: "The risk of over-diagnosis is less than previously reported, but still 12 men need to be diagnosed to save one life.

"Among men participating in the study at or below age 60, the risk of prostate cancer death was notably low with only a quarter of the expected rate of death from prostate cancer."

Writing in the journal, Dr David Neal, of Cambridge University, UK, questions whether the findings support the introduction of screening programmes.

He says they "show that in certain circumstances, PSA testing and early diagnosis reduces death from prostate cancer.

"It does not imply that PSA screening programmes should now be introduced internationally."

The Lancet Oncology on-line June 30 2010

Tags: Cancer | Europe | Menís Health

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