A study of the risks and benefits of screening for prostate cancer with a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test, found that a group of 64,436 men aged 50 to 59 years followed for a mean of 10 years after a one-off blood test had the same death rate from the disease (0.29%) as a control group of men who did not have a PSA screening test performed.
‘PSA blood tests are still not good enough to screen for prostate cancer’ remains the recommendation of the UK National Screening Committee. They conclude that the high levels of test false positives cause worry and anxiety and that these harms outweigh potential benefits.
Two large studies of prostate cancer screening, one from the US and one from Europe, have given uncertain results. The problem is that screening and treatment may do more harm than good for men who have a slow-growing cancer. The studies provide no evidence to suggest that the current UK approach to screening should be changed at present.
The earlier cancer is diagnosed the more likely is treatment to be successful. In June 2015 the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published an updated guideline for general practitioners so that the signs and symptoms of possible cancers could be recognised earlier and the right tests performed faster. It also produced information to help the general public recognise common signs and symptoms of possible cancer so that people would visit their doctor sooner. Health experts predict earlier diagnosis may save thousands of lives each year.
What are they? Tumour markers are substances, usually proteins, produced by the body in response to cancer growth or by cancer tissue itself. Their detection and measurement in blood plasma, urine or tissue can help to detect and aid diagnosis of some types of cancer, predict and monitor response to treatment and detect recurrence. Recently...