(HealthDay News) – Screening men for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels significantly reduces their risk of death from prostate cancer, but not their overall risk of death, according to a study in the March 15 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Fritz H. Schröder, MD, from the Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and colleagues re-analyzed mortality after an additional two years of follow-up in a European study of 162,388 men (aged 55 to 69 years) who had been randomized to screening for PSA levels or no screening.

After a median of 11 years of follow-up, the researchers found a significant relative reduction in the risk of death from prostate cancer in the screened group of 21%, or 29% after correcting for selection bias and noncompliance. The relative reduction was even greater in the final two years of follow-up, at 38%. The absolute mortality reduction was 0.10 deaths per 1,000 person-years. However, there was no significant difference in all-cause mortality between the two groups.

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“Despite the reduction in the rate of death from prostate cancer, screening had no effect on all-cause mortality,” Schroder and colleagues conclude. “More information on the balance of benefits and adverse effects, as well as the cost-effectiveness, of prostate-cancer screening is needed before general recommendations can be made.”

Several authors disclosed financial relationships with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

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