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Insufficient evidence for PSA prostate cancer screening

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There is insufficient evidence to support population-wide screening for prostate cancer using the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test, according to two new sets of research published online in the BMJ.

In the first study, Swedish researchers compared the PSA test results of 540 men diagnosed with prostate cancer with 1,034 healthy controls.

They found that only very low concentrations of PSA - less than 1ng/ml – ruled out a diagnosis of prostate cancer during follow up.

Additionally, a study by US researchers - which looked at the published research on the benefits and harms of PSA screening, found that data on costs and benefits remains insufficient to support population based screening.

The authors of both papers concluded that the PSA test alone could not distinguish between lethal and harmless prostate cancer, leading to overdiagnosis and overtreatment of healthy men.

They said that additional biomarkers for the early detection of prostate cancer are needed before population based screening for the disease should be introduced. 

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