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Blood testing that measures a man's PSA levels and takes into consideration other risk factors such as gland size, family history and body weight can improve the diagnosis of prostate cancer and limit the number of unnecessary biopsies, according to a new study.
There has been a significant amount of debate recently over whether a PSA test is a reliable measure of a man's prostate cancer risk or if it simply leads to overdiagnosis and treatment of the disease. The new study suggests that the test does provide valuable information about cancer risk, but suggests that this data should not be considered in a vacuum.
After reviewing medical records, researchers from Harvard Medical School found that considering a patient's family history, prostate size and body mass in conjunction with PSA scores may save one-quarter of all biopsy-eligible men from having to undergo the procedure. This saves money and a significant amount of discomfort for men.
"Urological practice, patient outcome and cost-effectiveness of health care would each benefit from new targeted strategies to enable selective identification of candidate for prostate biopsy that would improve the yield of clinically significant, histologically aggressive cancers warranting subsequent definitive treatment," the team wrote in their report.
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