Press comment: According to the long-term results of a major European study involving over 162 000 men, published in The Lancet, screening for prostate cancer using prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing could reduce deaths from the disease by about a fifth. However, despite this new evidence, doubts as to whether the benefits of screening outweigh the harms remain, and routine PSA screening programmes should not be introduced at this time, the authors concluded.
Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research from Prostate Cancer UK says:
“Our ability to identify those most at risk of aggressive prostate cancer through a national screening programme is a topic high on most people’s agendas. These results are no great surprise and highlight yet again the urgent need for a test which can distinguish between dangerous cancers that could go on to kill and those which may never cause any harm. Without a reliable test, the introduction of a screening programme could mean an enormous rate of over diagnosis and therefore over treatment of potentially harmless cancers – outweighing any benefits that a screening programme might bring.
“Getting an accurate diagnostic test that can be delivered relatively cheaply and simply could mean that the UK can start thinking about the introduction of a national screening programme and our research is working towards that. However, in the meantime, men most at risk of prostate cancer – black men, men over 50 and men with a family history of the disease – should speak to their GP about their risk and whether the PSA test is right for them.”