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In 2011, health experts from the federal government concluded that the use of prostate specific antigen (PSA) screening had little to no effect on the treatment of non-aggressive prostate cancers. However, researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center concluded that without this lab test, 17,000 more men a year may develop advanced prostate cancer.
According to the National Cancer Institute, nearly 242,000 American men will be newly diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2012, while another approximately 28,000 will die.
PSA screening is important for early diagnoses. However, government experts asserted that these tests may lead to treatment of non-aggressive disease, increasing patients' risk of incontinence and erectile dysfunction.
In order to investigate what would happen if PSA screens were no longer routine, a team of scientists compared patient data collected from 1983 to 1985 with records from 2006 to 2008. During the earlier time period, PSA testing was not routine. However, it was widespread in the later years.
Data analyses revealed that if PSA screens disappeared, three times as many men as there are now would develop advanced prostate cancer before actually being diagnosed.
Men who would rather know the state of their prostate health can measure their PSA levels through a lab test.
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