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Doctors may be shying away from recommending biopsies for men who have blood tests results that reveal suspicious PSA levels, and this conservative approach has been the norm for several years, according to a new study.
A team of researchers from the Department of Veterans' Affairs Medical Center in Seattle examined the medical histories of nearly 55,000 men who received PSA testing between 1997 and 2008. The results showed that doctors were unlikely to refer patients for a biopsy, traditionally the next step in prostate cancer diagnosis, unless PSA levels were extremely high.
There has been considerable concern in the medical community about administering blood tests for PSA levels to all adult men, as experts believed this would likely lead to high rates of biopsies for men who do not in fact have prostate cancer. This poses a risk for patients' health and threatens to add unnecessary costs to treatment.
However, the present study indicates that this is not happening, and that doctors are actually being more conservative in their recommendations than in the past.
"Despite considerable recent debate about lowering the threshold for referring men to biopsy, we detected no change toward more aggressive biopsy referral practices," said lead researcher Steven Zeliadt.
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