Study: Annual prostate cancer test doesn't save lives
January 6th, 2012
06:53 PM ET

Study: Annual prostate cancer test doesn't save lives

Researchers have found more evidence that annual prostate cancer screening, called PSA test,  in men doesn't save lives.   Scientists followed 76,000 men for 10 to 13 years and found annual screening for prostate cancer led to more diagnoses but didn't result in less deaths from the disease, according to a new study from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Last October, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended against routine PSA screenings for most men because of similar concerns about the accuracy of screening using a blood test that measures a protein called prostate-specific antigen or PSA.

Dr. Otis Brawley,  the chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society said the harms of screening are better proved than the benefits,which is why he supports the USPSTF recommendations.  A substantial number of men receive unnecessary treatment because of the annual tests,which can lead to harms such as impotence and incontinence and can even lead to premature death, he wrote.

For the population at large, PSA screening may not be beneficial and the harms may outweigh the benefits, said Dr. Gerald Andriole, the study's lead author and chief of division of urologic surgery at the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine.  The majority of prostate cancers are very slow-growing tumors and men will probably not die from it.  However, in the U.S. if a man is diagnosed with prostate cancer he's most likely going to choose the most aggressive treatment.

Researchers found that some subgroups of men did benefit from annual screenings.  "For the healthiest men, there was a significant reduction in prostate cancer mortality among men who got screened.  In addition to that group, also men who have strong family history of prostate cancer, and African-American men [who are twice as likely to die from  prostate cancer as caucasian men] should also get PSA testing," said Andriole.

"In the case of a man undergoing an annual checkup, I would not recommend that a PSA test be included with other 'routine' blood test without a specific conversation between the doctor and patient or caregiver and patient about the pros and cons for him, the patients specific circumstances," said Andriole.

Dr. Lee Ponsky, a urologist at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland is part of a group of researchers looking at more sensitive ways of detecting prostate cancer. He said for now, "the PSA test is the best we've got, but it certainly has its shortcomings."

While researchers are looking into different ways of screening and how to classify prostate cancer once diagnosed, Ponsky said we are several years from a simpler test such as a blood or urine one that can detect cancer and determine whether or not it needs aggressive treatment right away.

The study was published Friday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

soundoff (400 Responses)
  1. portland tony

    The exam is innocuous .......but readings can lead to disaster in some cases. Higher than normal readings can be attributed to many things including bicycle riding....tell that to someone who's had a biopsy or prostate surgery.

    January 6, 2012 at 19:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Barry

      I've had two prostate biopsies over the past ten years and it is not so terrible. I will be glad to have a third one if my PSA score and velocity indicate the need instead of ignoring a potential cancer. If the urologist injects lidocaine first there is simply no discomfort or pain at all. Without the lidocaine it is uncomfortable but certainly tolerable. Take your pick, avoid the biopsy and risk not treating a malignant prostate or take a very small manageable risk and attack a malignant tumor while it is still treatable. Me, I'll easily tolerate the risk and mild discomfort (at most) and not risk an untreated tumor.

      January 9, 2012 at 04:58 | Report abuse |
    • robert

      I just received a call from my dr. I ride bikes. Where can I see info based on what you wrote?

      January 9, 2012 at 14:19 | Report abuse |
  2. George Douglas

    The idiots that are saying the tests are not worth the time and expense are wrong. The article itself says that prostrate cancer deaths have dropped 40% in recent years. It is because men are being tested and it is being discovered in time to treat it. This report is all about reducing medical expenses for the government and insurance companies. This is what Obamacare will do for you. Remember Sarah Palin being made fun of when she disclosed what she called the "Death Panels"? Anyone telling men not to have the annual tests will have the blood of prostrate cancer victims on their hands.

    January 6, 2012 at 19:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Craig

      Grasping for straws? This is an annual report and has nothing to do with Obama or "death panels".

      January 6, 2012 at 20:05 | Report abuse |
    • SilentBoy741

      The Death Panels would be an excellent name for a rock band.

      January 6, 2012 at 20:21 | Report abuse |
    • portland tony

      PSA testing is recommended by Medicare. Every blood work up I've had since being enrolled has included a PSA evaluation...... Know of what you speak before making a fool of yourself

      January 6, 2012 at 21:52 | Report abuse |
    • Iceman

      Obama Care will help many now uninsured get the test and medical attention they need. Stop popping of fake Fox News propaganda ...fear mongerer........dump all medical insurance companies and cover all Americans with a national health care plan with all the money saved.

      January 7, 2012 at 01:19 | Report abuse |
    • Papaw

      "PROSTRATE"? If you can't spell it, you probably have no business spouting off about it. The prostate specific antigen test, has been in question for some time now, with an older study recommending digital exams. Even the military recently raised the age for their physicals from forty to fifty. The key thing to remember is that most cancers of the prostate are Slow growing. Usually symptoms, such as difficult or slow urination will indicate an enlarged prostate. While most testing done by health providers is quite needed, many just follow the guidlines put forth by the larger healthcare community, and put the money in the bank. I'll refer you to the shifting guidlines on breast screening. But, what do I know? I'm just a dumb ole country boy.

      January 7, 2012 at 10:30 | Report abuse |
    • zoey

      I can tell you're really afraid and fear makes you do stupid things like getting a screening when you don't need one. This has nothing to do with reducing healthcare costs. My God, the healthcare industry makes money on every test you take and that means PROFIT.
      This is just like mammograms. They do more harm then good (i.e. false positives) and do not contribute to survivability. We are living longer with cancer because of the new TREATMENTS (i.e. medications) not because of screenings.

      January 7, 2012 at 17:50 | Report abuse |
    • Bob C.

      The *TREATMENT* is why deaths are falling, not the PSA screening.

      My neighbor just got aggressive treatment for prostate cancer at 75 years old. Without it, his doctors said he'd live to be 85. By then, he might have died from other natural causes. He had the treatment anyway. He's now confined to a wheelchair and has no energy, and this is four months after the treatment ended. No one knows what's wrong. He's convinced the PSA test ruined his life. It's difficult to disagree with him.

      January 7, 2012 at 18:30 | Report abuse |
    • sparknut

      The real death panels are being run by insurance companies – private enterprise – who make life or death decisions for people every day. It is far more likely that your insurance company will withold potentially life saving treatment than the government.

      January 7, 2012 at 21:28 | Report abuse |
    • Dana

      No, what Obamacare will do for me is lower my and my employer's expenses. Insurance companies are the root of all evil in today's economy. Time to teach them a lesson!

      January 9, 2012 at 13:39 | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      You must be right! Trained statisticians and MD's have studied the data and have come to the conclusion that the test is not justified economically or medically so they must be idiots or it's a conspiracy. After all, they've come to a conclusion that's different from your preconceived notions. It's really sad that so many people in our country are so ignorant of science and math. We as a society would be much happier and healtheir if people knew more than what happened on last night's TV shows.

      January 9, 2012 at 15:30 | Report abuse |
    • Clinton Williams

      George, you are absolutely right. After having a small cancer on my right kidney I then went for a PCA test. It showed to be lelevated so a few months later when I went back for another, it had climbed from 3 to 4 in 3 months. On the first biopsy they could not determine if it was cancerous. They sent it to Mayo Clinic and they said they were not sure but wait 3 months. At that time 10 biopsies were taken and it was the fast growing kind. It also had climbed to level 7. If I had not had these tests done I would probably be dead because it it had grown that much in 3 months.After radical surgery on 9/24/2003 I have not had to have any treatments of any kind. After about 8 months the PSA dropped to00 and has stayed there. Nothing has showed up.

      January 9, 2012 at 20:19 | Report abuse |
  3. drew

    Anal screening doesn't work?

    January 6, 2012 at 20:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SixDegrees

      It works fine, but there are some tumors it cannot detect. The hope was that PSA blood tests would pick up some of those, or act as a trigger for a digital exam, but neither of those has panned out. In many cases, though, a positive PSA test has led to aggressive treatment for a tumor that isn't there. Hence the recommendation to stop annual testing. While it still may be useful to encourage a following digital exam, it doesn't appear to be worthwhile on its own.

      January 7, 2012 at 13:30 | Report abuse |
  4. Vandehey

    Anyone notice that these studies that push for less testing have been more frequent and publicized in the last couple years? A bit of a coincidence given the ferocity of the health care debate. So nowI've seen prostate exams, mammograms, hip replacements, and knee replacements all pronounced "unnecessary" by a series of studies. It'll be interesting to see how this progresses.

    January 6, 2012 at 22:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Poodles

    Ducks go quack. Cows go moo. I hump them both.

    January 6, 2012 at 23:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. max_03_ca

    It would appear that a DRE is the only available test which might or might not indicate whether a man needs to have a biopsy,which could lead to complications just like a PSA test. It would appear the experts don't really know anymore than the rest of us!

    January 7, 2012 at 00:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Barry

      A DRE is almost worthless as only a small portion of the prostate can be felt. I have a 130 CC prostate and I am consistently told the DRE does not indicate a prostate anywhere near this big. Until a better test comes along, men need to stop making excuses and get PSA tests even if they have to deal with false positives. In reality, the risk associated with a biopsy is very small and well worth it when considering the consequences of not addressing a possible malignancy.

      January 9, 2012 at 05:03 | Report abuse |
  7. c s

    The PSA test gives too many false positives. In other words, the side affects of "high" PSA test is usually a biopsy and other tests. Once the biopsy shows cancer, then it is almost impossible to stop the full bore treatment which involves surgery, radiation and chemo therapy. The major problem with prostate cancer is that about 60% of men who die each year have prostate cancer but only about 1% die from prostate cancer. I guess the safest method is just to remove the prostate from almost every man. The same thing could be done for women and have their breast and reproductive organs removed. Of course that is not going happen because of the cost both financial and medical.

    The major problem with prostate cancer is no one knows which man has an aggressive form and which man has the slow growing form. The aggressive form will kill no matter what is done. What is needed is better tests than the PSA test. Maybe it will be found in the future.

    January 7, 2012 at 00:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Superflow

    The PLCO trial complared men getting yearly PSA to a control group getting "usual care". This so-called control group got PSA tests as well. No wonder there was no benefit found.

    January 7, 2012 at 00:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. B A H

    I would be dead today if not for PSA screening. Without any of the classic symptoms of prostate cancer my first ever PSA was 19.6 and I was in the advanced stages of prostate cancer. Thanks to Johns Hopkins and the grace of God I am alive today 12 years later. I know of at least a dozen other men who are alive today because of detection earlier than my case. I guess we need to eliminate mammograms and other early detection tests as well.

    January 7, 2012 at 01:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • John

      I am like you. PSA of 5.5 for 10 years looked at it every year. In May 1999 went to 6.5 retest in Sept 8.5. cut it out in in Jan 2000 and it was a very aggressive. Live on Brother and we will pass the word

      January 7, 2012 at 08:49 | Report abuse |
    • MashaSobaka

      I'm glad you're still here. Keep talking. We need your voice.

      January 7, 2012 at 17:24 | Report abuse |
    • alan seago

      BAH: I'm glad the test worked for you, and that all went well in your case. But a successful diagnosis and treatment here and there, or a dozen here and there, does not prove or disprove the value of the test for the entire population. The Wash U study followed 76,000 men for 10-13 years. A larger and more representative slice of the population.

      In 1961 my father was in a major car accident which he survived because he was thrown from the car. If he had remained in the car he obviously would have been killed. Dad believed this proved that seat belts were dangerous. Your reasoning, and I don't mean to be disrespectful, but your reasoning is similar to his.

      January 8, 2012 at 13:46 | Report abuse |
    • Charlie

      My PSA rose from 0,9 to 5.3 before my internist even notified that it was rising. By the time I had surgery, they discovered that I had a moderate sized tumor...the cancer had spread to the tissue outside my prostate gland...and the post-surgery pathology report showed that my prostate cancer cells are very aggressive. Thanks to my skilled surgeon at Johns Hopkins, I feel I have a much better chance of defeating prostate cancer. The government has no business recommending that we do away with the PSA test. Do they prefer that more men die of prostate cancer? Is that their goal?

      January 8, 2012 at 15:59 | Report abuse |
    • MikeyZ

      My FP, and several other FPs I've spoken to over the years, are in consensus that PSA differentials are a good predictor of the onset of prostate cancer, but not the absolute number, because it can vary drastically from person to person. A prior FP told me he once screened a man whose baseline PSA was 0.5 but had abnormalities on his digital, and was subsequently found under biopsy to have advanced prostate cancer. He also once screened a man with a baseline PSA of 10,000, a clean digital, was biopsied anyway, and found to be cancer-free.

      I don't pay attention to the numbers any more. I pay attention to the rates.

      The FPs I've spoken with would agree that ten years of a 5.5 PSA followed by a two-point jump in four months would be a serious red flag, consistent with what happened to John. A PSA of 19.6 has to be evaluated in the context of test history, which BAH didn't have. With a clean digital, they may or may not order a biopsy depending on the doctor's prior experiences and biases (how much weight they give to the old "absolute threshold" standard, and perhaps whether or not the patient has an HMO or a PPO. Obviously BAH would likely be dead by now without the biopsy, but statistically, is he the rule or the exception?

      I would submit that the PSA differential may have been a reliable predictor of John's cancer, but the absolute PSA was not a reliable predictor of BAH's cancer. If you line up a hundred men with similar age and similar absolute PSAs, and ten of them have cancer when only nine cases were found in a control group of a hundred men, then the study draws an accurate conclusion about the utility of the PSA test.

      Unfortunately, news articles on medical research are often far worse than the abstract of a peer-reviewed publication for disseminating relevant information. In the absence of relevant detail, we're all throwing darts blindfolded.

      January 8, 2012 at 16:12 | Report abuse |

    MILLIONS TO BE ASSASSINATED FOR THE SAKE OF $$$ LIABILITIES(mk-ultra, chip implants, electroshocks etc. performed on them) AND NEW WORLD ORDER(multiculturalism = terrorism) POLITICAL AGENDA KNOWN AS "YOU ARE NEXT"(financial liabilities are 2 expensive for the government and it is cheaper to get read of you instead) !!! IF YOU WERE TREATED WITH ELECTROSHOCKS OR DRUGS USED FOR WIPING OUT MEMORY(numerous Americans and Europeans were and are) AFTER ENDURING FORCED CHIP IMPLANTS(or to retard individual = how homeless people are produced), YOU ARE SCHEDULED NEXT !!!






    http://www.youtube.com/user/BostjanAvsec OBAMA'S HEALTH CARE RECORDED LIVE IN 2009 !!! These are hard facts about lunatic Obama/Bush's twilight zone administrations(HORROR) or genocide against whites per ZIONIST Washington DC and in complete agreement with communist Moscow !!!


    January 7, 2012 at 07:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Papaw


      January 7, 2012 at 10:38 | Report abuse |
    • Booboo

      Its called Zyprexa. Find a prescription, take the first dose right away. Before the agents find you. GO!!!

      January 8, 2012 at 23:37 | Report abuse |
    • Ed, Spring TX

      Please go back to your meds.

      January 9, 2012 at 10:40 | Report abuse |
  11. OleTimer

    The problem is not the testing but the way the results of the test are used. Despite an ocean of evidence that supports handling these results as "watchful waiting" until there is a sudden, rapid, rise in them, urologists begin pressing strongly for biopsies at low levels of PSA (without regard for pattern of previous results), and insurance companies use absolute (low) values to deny or cancel policies (again without regard for pattern of previous results). If MONEY were not involved, then the usefullness of annual exams in men over 40 would without doubt be evaluated differently and the conclusions of "studies" such as reported here would not be skewed (whether intentionally or non-intentionally),

    January 7, 2012 at 11:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alan

      Exactly right – insurance companies are the key. I tried to renew my term life insurance three years ago, PSA was normal, but PSA rate triggered very high quote. 10 PSA tests, 14 urologist visits, two 12 core biopsies, a colonoscopy, a $500 copay lung CT – all required by the insurance, all negative, and finally they just offered me super preferred rate. Three years ago I was scared, today I am scarred (emotionally and physically) but finally considered healthy.

      I really feel insurance companies, both life and health, are fleecing us. Why are my health insurance premiums up 10% per year for the last 10 years? Who is getting the 10% raise every year? Sorry – off track. PSA tests may trigger life saving action for some folks, but they really cost me wasted time and money.

      January 7, 2012 at 17:15 | Report abuse |
  12. Not a statistic

    FIRST – anyone out there who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer – look into PROTON radiation therapy (not to confuse with photon radiation) before making a decision on treatment – most urologists won't mention it – it might not be for everyone, but you definitely need to consider it.
    My thought is there needs to be an age distinction among who should not be tested if otherwise healthy. Older men, let's say 70 (maybe 75, maybe 80) and above could skip the PSA as maybe their life expectancy might not be enhanced by treatment – but would depend it each case of severity of disease and other health factors – quality of life for older men – again depends upon where they're at in general when this cancer is found and their own feelings on the pros and cons of treatment.
    "Younger" men – certainly in their 40's and 50's should have the blood test to establish a baseline- and also anyone any age with family history – BUT not necessarily move on to biopsy based on one result. I think we know now it's not so much the absolute PSA number, but how fast is it rising over time. So men can be in the normal PSA range and have cancer and also be well above the normal range and cancer can't be detected.
    My own cancer was found after rising PSA over years – the DRE never located it. So I feel more fortunate than many to have had to go through only one biopsy and even more so to have found PROTON for treatment – maybe the same outcome as surgery or conventional radiation but most of us brothers of the balloon have had fewer side effects leading to better quality of life.
    So each of us is not a statistic and have to make our own choices in regard to testing and treatment. This is one time when we're on our own and have to take this government recommendation and the "advice" of our urologists with a large grain of salt. Until there's a better diagnostic tool, we're left to research and choose for ourselves.

    January 7, 2012 at 12:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • NCNomad II

      Thank You "Not a statistic" for mentioning Proton radiation as an option for treating prostate cancer. Every man will have to consider what type of screaning/or not and treatment/or not is best for themselves. My husband (age 60) is currently being treated for prostate cancer at Loma Linda University Medical Center in Loma Linda, CA with proton radiation. The treatments (daily for 9 weeks) have been painless, take less than a minute, and there have been little to no side effects. Loma Linda is a wonderful hospital/university. The people are very caring and treatment centers around healing the mind/body/spirit. I would encourage everyone to do their own reading/research and decide what works best for their individual situations. My husband was told that proton radiation has a 98% success rate. Be Well Take Care Peace

      January 8, 2012 at 19:54 | Report abuse |
  13. MashaSobaka

    Healthcare should be the one place where greed and money are NOT involved. Thanks to our system, they're the first and sometimes the only variables that are considered. Prostate cancer deaths have decreased over the years. You cannot convince me that this is not tied directly to screening, early detection, and treatment. Yes, doctors should talk with patients about their best options...that's a "no duh" if I ever heard one. But that doesn't mean that the screenings should stop. For anyone. Doctors need to be better doctors, and insurance companies need to finally admit that they know as much about medicine as a toddler knows about theoretical physics.

    January 7, 2012 at 17:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sparknut

      Well said.

      January 7, 2012 at 21:30 | Report abuse |
  14. GordyB

    My father died from prostate cancer at age 71. When he was diagnosed at 63, it was already metastic cancer in his bones. There was no PSA at the time. I am 65 and thanks to the PSA, my cancer was detected at age 56. I opted for the removal of the prostate using nerve sparing surgery. My surgeon was very skilled and I have a near normal life. I don't know who does these studies but if there is a history of prostate cancer in your family, your chances double. The PSA is the only way today to detect cancer early. The DRE will only detect a tumor that is already large and the cancer may have already migrated to another organ in the body. This is the real question , how to detect if the cancer has started to spread...if it has. Start your countdown clock.

    January 7, 2012 at 20:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • People are bad at statistics

      If you reread the article you'll notice that they would recommend screenings for people with a family history of prostate cancer along with healthy men. In those instances they found that in a statistically significant sample size that the screening for this cancer and the potential for detecting a malignant, life threatening, but treatable cancer outweighed the risk of a false positive and all of the risks associated with aggressive treatment after.

      In all other instances they found that overall these screenings had more detrimental effects than positive, so if you don't fall under the exceptions as you likely do then they are recommending not getting the screening. They are merely further targeting and specifying who they recommend the screening for as more specific data comes in opposed to just lumping everybody in the same age groups together.

      I haven't read the actually studies, but just the media's usually misrepresented and poor interpretation of the conclusions of the studies. At the same time, on every one of these types of articles people attempt to counter the findings with anecdotal evidence. Although I sympathize with them, at the same time in a world of limited resources, especially human capital in the medical field(i.e. doctors), these studies are imperative to getting treatment to as many as possible in a way that best addresses the overall risks. Unfortunately, sometimes this may lead to negative results for certain individuals, but overall it should hopefully lessen the amount within the entire population.

      As much as I dislike insurance companies, pharmaceuticals and the profit driven healthcare field, even if you got rid of their profit driven motives it just isn't feasible to treat every single person for any possible condition that may lead to their death. There just aren't adequate doctors, nurses, specialists, or equipment in the world to address such an overly thorough strategy unless somebody here has some ingenious idea on how to revolutionize the healthcare field in a practical way that would allow for this.

      January 9, 2012 at 12:57 | Report abuse |
  15. Nancy S (Canada)

    OMG: I get so upset and furious when i read articles like this one. To say that PSA testing doesn't save lives,should seriously reconsider. It is a simple blood test. My beloved partner (Randy) of 10 years passed away 1 year ago in February at the age of 53. That's right 53 years young. His PSA was in the 2,000's. Until then,we had never heard of a PSA test.
    Had he had it at 40, he probably would be alive today. Doctors say that he probably had the cancer since he was 35 years old. Advanced prostate cancer at age 53, should be unheard of. Advanced Prostate Cancer (metatastic-spread to the bones) is a devasting, painful, cancer that will rob you of quality of life.Men must not have the fear of the DRE and the PSA test should be encouraged by the patient and his doctor. In Randy's case, the DRE felt "normal" and did not detect the cancer. It was the PSA test which was the determining factor. So, please encourage this necessary blood test.
    It may just save a life.

    January 7, 2012 at 21:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. We hate you health care from wealthy Romney Santorum,Forbes

    The Holy religious (funny) Morman and Roman Catholic Republican candidates
    all in their holy grace wish when elected & now promise to eliminate more health care for we
    non wealthy American's and kill the already starting Obama Care. They attack
    it as George Bush and Tricky Dickey Cheney did Iraq. Nice guys!! lol, and sooo loving
    towards people of less mean who have to choose rent or healthcare insurance
    but can't have both. This PSA idiot comment is part of big business wishing to cut costs
    just ask the late actor Jerry Orbach from "Law & Order" about his fatal Prostate Cancer
    which killed him in 3 months from Dx. Keep the PSA tests it does save lives till we have
    something better. And keep Obama Care actually it has to be stronger as we keep old folks
    alive longer we will need more assisted care facilities and nursing homes ,Guess who is gonna
    pay for this ? Ask Romney and his crowd.

    January 8, 2012 at 09:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Hunter

    I fail to see the connection between having a lab technician run a PSA screening on a blood sample. Since when can a test actually harm a person, collage finals not withstanding? My father-in-law died from prostate cancer that had spread to his bones, it turns out he NEVER had a PSA screening done. He was in the doctors office monthly for one blood test or another.
    I'll stick with the annual test and discuss with my physician any treatments that may, or may not, be necessary based on the results.

    January 8, 2012 at 14:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. WMiller

    This is a sneaky way to knock men off (As Scrooge exclaimed) TO DECREASE The Surplus Population. This way they will not have to take care of us as we are living longer!

    January 8, 2012 at 17:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. BillD

    The "experts" can say whatever they want. If my doctor hadn't included a PSA test in m annual physical each of the last half dozen years, and if I hadn't seen the numbers rise, no one would have persuaded me to have a DRE and a biopsy, which found prostate cancer in six of 12 biopsy specimens. If a man waits for "symptoms," he'll find himself beyond the curative stage. The PSA test is simply a diagnostic test, but I find it hard to understand why some folks apparently think that ignorance is better than knowledge. I've dealt with prostate cancer, and it hasn't been fun. Until you've done that, you might want to be careful about making blanket statements suggesting screening is a bad thing.

    January 8, 2012 at 18:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Steve M

    A colleague of mine where I teach and I both had our lives saved by PSA testing; it isn't a single test that alerts doctors...i.e. a single high score in and of itself is meaningless. It is a significant change in a relatively short amount of time that is the signal for action. Mine changed within six months, quite a bit, and I was directed to get a biopsy immediately. They found cancer, quite a bit actually, and I barely got a radical in time to prevent a significant spill into the area around the prostate. I still had to have two months of radiation to complete the process. Were there repercussions? Yes. Am I alive and functional? Yes. Not perfect, but I'm around to watch my kids finish college and go out in the world. I'm not thrilled with this trend against testing; it seems very poorly reported and expounded...
    The gentleman who railed about Obamacare...please. This has zero to do with that. I get so tired of fringe political rants on these comment pages. I hope others do as well. By the way, my colleague also beat cancer...and his without a radical prostatectomy. Both of us alerted by the PSA test. Food for thought.

    January 8, 2012 at 21:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Barry

    I am really getting tired of continuing to hear the medical community discourage PSA testing. At this time there is nothing better that is readily available. From my perspective as a 66 year old male, the consequence of a false positive result is a very small price to pay in comparison to not treating a cancerous prostate immediately. Over the past ten years I have had two negative prostate biopsies and I can tell you, from experience, it is not so terrible. In fact, there was no discomfort at all with the second one because the urologist injected Lidocaine first. The first one (ten years ago) was somewhat uncomfortable but certainly not painful or intolerable. It was certainly less painful than anything associated with an untreated malignant tumor. If my PSA score and velocity indicate the need for another one, I will be glad to have it in lieu of possibly not treating a malignant prostate. My annoyance comes from the medical community telling patients what is best for them instead of just laying out the facts and letting the patient decide for himself.

    January 9, 2012 at 04:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Bill

    If I followed the recommendations of this study I'd be dead today or close to it. Nine years ago I went to my doctor to get allergy medication and he recommended I get a PSA because I was 60. My PSA was 15 and I had cancer. I had open surgery, my prostate had six malignant tumors. I am cancer free now have an annual PSA. I thought that I was healthy at the time.

    A large study like this cannot be ignored but it comes down to each man's decision on how he wants to manage his health. I get an annual exam, I know guys who never get one. So far my annual exams have not found any other medical problems, have I wasted my money? I learned that even a healthy man can suddenly and unexpectedly develop a terminal illness. I tell men to get tested each year. If you are a man who is in the lowest risk group and your chances of getting prostate cancer are very low lets say 1 in 10,000 you might be that one guy. it. It is worth a simple blood test to rule it out. You don't want to get a diagnosis of prostate cancer, it will put you and your family through he!!.

    January 9, 2012 at 07:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Dystopiax

    Of persons who contract the habit of eating, 100% of them die.

    January 9, 2012 at 08:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. bluesmanhere

    Wrong – PSA was high and cancer was found, so all this crap about the PSA TEST is meaningless. Age was mid fifties.

    January 9, 2012 at 13:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. KDC

    As a woman, I would love to be able to get a blood test to detect breast cancer. Instead the girls get crushed between two steel plates like a vise.

    I am betting that if the only way to test men for prostate cancer was to crush their tenders in a vise, that the news would be running with the 'benefits of detection are outweighed by the risk of serious injury to the patient.'

    Consider yourselves lucky, boys, and get your PSA test done.

    January 9, 2012 at 13:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dragisa

      That would not be true. The region is llefid with tiny nerves and the prostate is very sensitive. They inject the prostate with something like Novocaine to dull the sensation before they begin. I had a biopsy a couple of months ago. They insert this ultrasound device into your rectum to help guide them in finding the exact location for the biopsy. they insert the biobsy needles, which are attached to a gun with a trigger. when they release the needle it snaps out really quickly and grabs the surrounding tissue. It isn't painful exactly, it feel more like being snapped with a rubber band. it gradually becomes more uncomfortable though, and by the 10th one I was ready for them to stop. They took twelve samples. The Dr. told me there might be a little blood in my urine for a few days and some blood in my semen for up to a week. There was a lot of blood! it freaked me out .but it did go away quickly. Other than that, it wasn't that bad,

      April 9, 2012 at 11:57 | Report abuse |
  26. notagain

    Over 27,000 American men die each year from prostate cancer. Until better detection is discovered, I'll take the PSA

    January 9, 2012 at 14:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. PSA w/digital exam best current diagostic method

    The author and experts behind this article should tell my father who died of prostate cancer 24 years ago at age 57 that the PSA test is not necessary. I have had this test annually for many years. Who cares about false positives. If the life the test saves is mine, that is good enough justification for me. A positive test is simply cause for looking closer, not for immediate surgery. My neighbor had a positive test at 42 that the initial digital test missed. After the positive test, the doctor examined him closer and found the growth. Oh and I bicycle extensively and have never had a false positive.

    January 9, 2012 at 15:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. anonymous

    The PSA test saved my brother's life. He started getting the simple blood test every year starting at age 40, on the advice of his doctor. The number was a little elevated, so they did a biopsy and found an aggressive cancer when he was still in his 40's. If he'd waited until age 50 to have this test, or not at all, he wouldn't be with us right now. Early detection meant they caught the cancer before it spread outside the prostate into his bones and other organs. By the way, when they took out his prostate, it was normal size even though one third of it was filled with cancer. So the DRE test is not always reliable in detecting cancer. You need both tests. Why not use a test that has saved countless lives??? Another note: we had no family history and he's not African American, not in any high risk group.

    January 9, 2012 at 16:41 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.