LONDON, Sept. 15 (UPI) — British health officials say a national screening program of a single prostate cancer test for every man age 60 could save thousands of lives.
They say the $15 prostate specific antigen test would rule out the risk in half of the male population and allow doctors to concentrate their scarce resources on those most susceptible to developing and dying from the condition, The Daily Telegraph reported.
A new report suggests that 60 is a watershed age and having one then can definitely eliminate the risk of the disease becoming life-threatening in up to 50 percent of men, eliminating the need for them to be screened in the future, experts said.
But doctors disagree over the value of the testing because more than 65 percent of men with high PSA do not have cancer, raising the risk of misdiagnosis.
The fear, they say, is many men could be “overdiagnosed” and be so worried they will undergo unnecessary and risky surgery.
Professor Mark Emberton, a prostate cancer expert at University College London, said the test could help get thousands of men off the “diagnostic conveyor belt.”
“The key question is not ‘do you have prostate cancer’ because most men are going to get it,” he said.
“The key thing is ‘do you have clinically important prostate cancer,’ cancer that will have an adverse effect on your life.”
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