Prostate cancer screening 'reduces deaths by a fifth'

6 August 2014

Prostate cancer screening could reduce deaths from the disease by about a fifth, according to the long-term results of a major European study involving over 162,000 men published in The Lancet.

The European Randomised study of Screening for Prostate Cancer, which began in 1993 to determine whether screening men for PSA reduces deaths from prostate cancer, recruited men between the ages of 50 and 74 years from eight countries who were randomised to receive either PSA screening every four years or no intervention.

The results showed that screening appeared to reduce prostate cancer deaths by 15 per cent at nine years, and 22 per cent at 11 years, though over 13 years follow-up, there was no further improvement in the relative reduction in prostate cancer deaths, which decreased by roughly a fifth (21 per cent) in the screening group compared with the control group.

Despite this, men who were actually screened had a 27 per cent lower chance of dying of prostate cancer.

Professor Fritz Schroder, from Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands, commented: "PSA screening delivers a substantial reduction in prostate cancer deaths, similar or greater than that reported in screening for breast cancer. However, over-diagnosis occurs in roughly 40 per cent of cases detected by screening, resulting in a high risk of overtreatment and common side-effects such as incontinence and impotence."

Posted by Philip Briggs​

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