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Researchers find no difference in prostate cancer-specific mortality in screened, unscreened men

Friday, April 1, 2011 (Last Updated: 04/04/2011)

FRIDAY, April 1 (HealthDay News) -- Screening for prostate cancer may not reduce prostate cancer-specific mortality, according to research published online March 31 in BMJ.

Gabriel Sandblom, M.D., Ph.D., of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, and colleagues randomly allocated 1,494 men to be screened for prostate cancer every third year from 1987 to 1996 to assess the effect of screening on prostate cancer mortality. The first two screenings were done by digital rectal exam, the third included prostate-specific antigen testing, and the fourth included only those men 69 or younger.

The researchers found that, during the study, 85 men (5.7 percent) in the intervention group and 292 (3.9 percent) in the control group were diagnosed with prostate cancer. In the screening group, the risk ratio for death from prostate cancer was 1.16. Comparing the control group and the intervention group for prostate cancer-specific survival, the hazard ratio for death due to prostate cancer was 1.23 (P = 0.13). After the researchers adjusted for age at the beginning of the study, the hazard ratio was 1.58 (P = 0.024).

"After 20 years of follow-up the rate of death from prostate cancer did not differ significantly between men in the screening group and those in the control group," the authors write.

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Specialties Hematology & Oncology

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