Routine screening for prostate cancer may not help lower the number of deaths caused by the condition. Research conducted at the Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, has indicated that any amount of testing for the ailment among men in their fifties or sixties will have no impact on the death rate.
For the study, over 76,000 men in the age-group between 55-74 years had been observed for 13 years. Half of them were subjected to annual digital rectal examinations and Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) tests for a period of six years. The other half, called the control group, continued care with their regular doctors.
The researchers found that most of the cancers were slow-growing that did not kill the patient.
Lead author Gerald Andriole of the Washington University School of Medicine has mentioned that although routine screening may not lower the death rate, it will be wrong to say that there's no benefit from screening at all. The researcher has said that screening should be focused on younger, healthy men and those at risk for the disease, such as those with a family history of prostate cancer, according to msnbc.com.
Apart from this, Gerald has emphasized on the need to modify current practices and stop screening elderly men and those with a limited life expectancy.
The report has pointed out that although PSA tests were able to indicate the cancer, yet it was unable to distinguish between the lethal and non-lethal variants. Hence, positive results lead to people opting for emergency procedures which, according to the report, are not required.
The study has been published in the current edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.