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Is the PSA Test Worth It? March 19, 2009

Filed under: Physical Wellness — aprasek @ 10:53 am

We’ve talked about this before on Wellness Gossip… Obviously, this is a really controversial topic. The PSA test (a blood test that can indicate the presence of prostate cancer), is believed by some as the early diagnosis that saved their life. But, what is the research telling us? The New York Times had a very interesting article on two new studies looking at the effectiveness of the PSA test:

The studies – one in Europe and the other in the United States – are “some of the most important studies in the history of men’s health,” said Dr. Otis Brawley, the chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society.


In the European study, 48 men were told they had prostate cancer and needlessly treated for it for every man whose death was prevented within a decade after having had a PSA test.


Dr. Peter B. Bach, a physician and epidemiologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, says one way to think of the data is to suppose he has a PSA test today. It leads to a biopsy that reveals he has prostate cancer, and he is treated for it. There is a one in 50 chance that, in 2019 or later, he will be spared death from a cancer that would otherwise have killed him. And there is a 49 in 50 chance that he will have been treated unnecessarily for a cancer that was never a threat to his life.


Read the rest of the NYT story here.

 What do you think? In what conditions (if ever) is a PSA test worth it?


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