A new research shows that the rate of developing early prostate cancer in elders in US dropped suddenly after a change was brought about in screening advice suggested by government–backed experts in 2008.
The findings show a change from the older trend of routine screening for prostate cancer. Many practitioners felt that such screening could do more harm than good for the patient. Given the known risks of getting screened for prostate cancer and its insignificant benefits, the US Preventive Services Task Force started discouraging screening in men aged 75 years and above way back in August 2008.
The same recommendation has been expanded to men of all ages recently. David .H. Howard, Health policy Researcher at Emory University at Atlanta and leader of the study said that a recent survey conducted early this year did not show any reduction in the number of screenings. These were regarded unreliable since patients had reported them.
By using a national cancer registry called 'SEER', he found out that early stage 8 prostate cancer detection in men aged 75 years and above dropped from 443 to 330 per 100,000 men or by 25 percent from 2007 to 2009. Advanced tumors and tumors in young men also showed a fall. But these were not as sudden or drastic as in older men. This proved that the new guidelines had an impact on doctors.
David said that despite recommendations and doubts raised about such screenings in elderly age-group, almost half the populace of elderly men in the US get screened for prostate cancer apart from other cancers. Today, almost 2.5 million men in the US are living with prostate cancer. Most of them will not die from it since many represent tumors which were detected by PSA tests without having any symptoms.
Experts opined that since prostate cancer does not progress much, men with early-stage prostate cancer are likely to choose to wait to see how much it progresses. By this, patients will be saved from the side effects such as incontinence or impotence caused by aggressive treatments like surgery or radiation therapies.