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New Study on PSA Test Screening for Prostate Cancer Raises More Questions

The results of a new cancer study raise important questions for men concerned with prostate cancer.  The study found that older men (ages 55 to 74) with low PSA baseline levels did not benefit from aggressive early detection screening tests.  According to the study, the lifestyle consequences (including impotence and incontinence) can outweigh the benefits in certain cases. 
"The greatest benefits of early detection programs may be when men, aged 55-74 years, are diagnosed and treated when their serum PSA is in the range 4.0-9.9 ng/ml or 10.0-19.9 ng/ml," said one of the researchers.
However, prostate cancer expert Dr. Anthony D'Amico, chief of radiation oncology at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, cautioned that the study was not long enough to reach a definite conclusion.  To really know if screening for prostate cancer at low PSA levels is beneficial or not, the study would have to cover 20 to 25 years, he said.  "People need to realize that prostate cancer has a long natural history and you can't look at studies after 10 years and make definitive comments about the utility of a screening test," D'Amico said.