The PSA prostate-cancer test used by half of U.S. men older than 40 carries more risks than benefits and shouldn’t be used to diagnose the disease, a U.S. panel said, reaffirming its earlier advice.
Scientific studies suggest the number of deaths avoided by screening are “very small” compared with risks from testing or treatment that can include infections, incontinence, erectile dysfunction and death, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force said in a medical journal today. The 16-doctor panel kept its recommendation from last October after some doctors and patient groups said discouraging the tests would cost lives.
The PSA exam searches for high levels of prostate-specific antigens. In a 2010 survey, 53 percent of American men older than 40 reported taking the test in the prior two years, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The panel based its recommendations largely on a U.S. study of 77,000 men who were screened and a European review of 182,000. In the U.S., researchers found no evidence the test reduced deaths. The European trial found the exam lowered the mortality rate. The improvement was due solely to results from Sweden and the Netherlands, while patients in five other countries fared no better after testing, the task force said.