Some men who have received good marks on the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test from their physicians may be getting a false sense of confidence about not having prostate cancer, according to a study released May 27 in The New England Journal of Medicine.
"There are many men who have been told that, based on their PSA score, they donít have prostate cancer," said lead author Ian M. Thompson Jr., M.D., professor of surgery and chief of urology at the Health Science Center. "Based on this study, we now know they have a substantial risk of cancer and some can have high-grade disease. Waiting for a PSA level to go above 4.0 may be too late in some men." News of the findings was featured by major news organizations, including NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, The Associated Press, Reuters, The Washington Post, Newsday, CNN.com, CBS News.com, ABC News Online and The Toronto Star.
The number of U.S. men who have been told they have "normal" PSA readings is estimated at 25 million to 35 million, researchers said.
The results suggest that men as young as 40 with a strong family history of prostate cancer and a PSA level even lower than 2.0 should seek consultation with their physicians. The new study reveals the need for a more specific test for prostate cancer, Dr. Thompson said.
Co-authors of the study are Leslie G. Ford, M.D., of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and Charles A. Coltman Jr., M.D., chairman of the Southwest Oncology Group, one of the largest NCI-supported cancer clinical trials cooperative groups in the United States.
Dr. Coltman served as principal investigator on the study and Dr. Thompson served as clinical coordinator. The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center at The University of Washington, Seattle, provided statistical support. Other co-authors are from The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and The University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.
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