07/04/2002 - News

Overdiagnosis in prostate cancer

By: Susan Aldridge, medical journalist, PhD


Men are increasingly being diagnosed with prostate cancers that would otherwise have remained undetected during their lifetime.

The prostate specific antigen (PSA) test is now widely used to screen for prostate cancer. It has its uses in monitoring known prostate cancer cases, but there is no real evidence to show that it can reduce prostate cancer mortality. A new analysis by a team at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle now suggests that PSA testing is even leading to over-diagnosis.

Using a computer model which determines prostate cancer trends both with and without PSA testing, the researchers suggest that 29 per cent of cases in white men, and 44 per cent in black men represent overdiagnosis. That is, without PSA testing, these cases would never have come to light when the men were alive (they would have died from some other cause first because the cancers were slow-growing). The study urges caution in wholesale use of PSA testing - because it may lead to unnecessary investigation and treatment.


Journal of the National Cancer Institute 3rd July 2002

Created on: 07/04/2002
Reviewed on: 07/04/2002

No votes yet