Screening for prostate cancer does not save lives, and may do more harm than good, a major study has concluded.
The largest ever trial of PSA (prostate specific antigen) tests – which all men over 50 can obtain on request from their GP – found that death rates were identical among men, whether or not they underwent screening.
Inviting symptomless men for the one-off blood test detects some tumours unlikely to be harmful – while still missing others that were fatal, researchers warned.
PSA tests do not save lives, but they do generate enormous revenues for cancer treatment clinics
The researchers studied 400,000 British men between the ages of 50 and 69 during a ten year follow-up period. The control group, representing 219,439 men, were not screened and had 7,853 cases of prostate cancer (3.6 percent). The 189,386 men who were invited for a PSA test were diagnosed more frequently (4.3 percent). In the follow up period, the same percentage died from prostate cancer (.29 percent), suggesting that PSA screening does not save lives and only leads to dangerous over-treatment.
Lead author Professor Richard Martin, a Cancer Research U.K. scientist at the University of Bristol said, “We found offering a single PSA test to men with no symptoms of prostate cancer does not save lives after an average follow up of 10 years.”