Prostate specific antigen testing may be unnecessary for some older men

Feb 20, 2009

Certain men age 75 to 80 are unlikely to benefit from routine prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing, according to a Johns Hopkins study published in the April 2009 issue of The Journal of Urology.

The researchers found that men in this age group with PSA levels less than 3 nanograms per milliliter are unlikely to die of or experience aggressive prostate cancer during their remaining life, suggesting that the use of PSA testing in many older men may no longer be needed.

The study, led by researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the National Institute on Aging's Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA), reviewed data from 849 men (122 with and 727 without prostate cancer) who were participating in the BLSA and who had undergone regular PSA testing.

Results showed that among men who were over 75 with PSA levels less than 3 nanograms per milliliter, none died of prostate cancer and only one developed high-risk prostate cancer. In contrast, men of all ages with a PSA level of 3 nanograms per milliliter or greater had a continually rising probability of dying from prostate cancer.

If confirmed by future studies, these results may help determine more specific guidelines for when PSA -based screening might be safely discontinued, according to lead investigator Edward Schaeffer, M.D., an assistant professor of urology at Johns Hopkins. While PSA screening remains a useful tool for helping detect early stages of prostate cancer and is credited with decreasing prostate cancer mortality, discontinuing unneeded PSA testing could significantly reduce the costs of screening and also potentially reduce morbidity resulting from additional tests or treatments.

"We need to identify where we should best focus our health care dollars by concentrating on patients who can actually benefit from PSA testing," Schaeffer says. "These findings give a very strong suggestion of when we can start to counsel patients on when to stop testing."

Source: Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions

Explore further: UN Security Council to hold emergency meeting on Ebola

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Making quantum dots glow brighter

43 minutes ago

Researchers from the University of Alabama in Huntsville and the University of Oklahoma have found a new way to control the properties of quantum dots, those tiny chunks of semiconductor material that glow ...

Recommended for you

Medical charity: Time running out to stop Ebola

2 hours ago

International efforts to stop the accelerating spread of Ebola in West Africa were ramping up Tuesday, but a medical charity warned that the response is still dangerously behind and time is running out to act.

Facing a post-antibiotic world

2 hours ago

It's official. Humanity is racing towards a post-antibiotic era, a time when today's life-saving drugs won't successfully treat common infectious diseases or even infections from minor injuries.

Obama to announce major Ebola effort

9 hours ago

US President Barack Obama will Tuesday seek to "turn the tide" in the Ebola epidemic by ordering 3,000 US military personnel to West Africa and launching a major health care training and hygiene program.

User comments : 0