Another new study exposes the failed promise of the PSA test. Researchers have found that while these screenings may detect some cancers, they won't actually make a difference when it comes to survival.
And that's a failure by any definition.
Researchers analyzed data from six studies involving more than 387,000 patients who had been randomly assigned to either PSA tests or no screenings at all.
They found that while the PSA tests detected about 20 cancer cases for every 1,000 men screened, they didn't make even the tiniest bit of difference when it came to predicting who would live and who would not, according to the study in BMJ.
"Therefore, the 20 patients (in 1,000) would be considered 'overdiagnosed,'" lead researchers Dr. Philipp Dahm told the Reuters news agency.
I couldn't have said it better myself.
That's because these screenings often detect cancers that never would have harmed the patient, much less killed him. Some studies have even found that men with untreated low- grade tumors can live at least 20 years with them, and ultimately die of something else altogether.
But while these tests won't increase your odds of survival... they will increase your odds of treatment, because men who flunk their PSAs are still routinely lined up for surgery and radiation--despite the fact that there's no evidence these will increase survival rates, either.
And those treatments can do far more damage than that quiet little tumor ever would have, putting you at risk for permanent incontinence and erectile dysfunction.
But while even the mainstream comes around and starts to recognize the complete failure of the PSA test, some are still working to salvage it: Another new study finds that a single PSA test at the age of 60 might be able to predict your cancer risk.
Researchers tested for PSA levels in blood samples donated by 1,200 60-year-old Swedish men in 1982, then matched the results against the long-term medical records.
They found that those with the highest levels at 60 years old had the highest risk of death from prostate cancer by the age of 85... and those with the lowest levels had virtually no death risk.
But don't sign up for that one-time test just yet, because even the men in this study with the highest levels of PSA still had a low death risk--less than 17 percent ultimately died of the disease, according to the study in BMJ.
And there's still no evidence that treating even those men would have increased the survival rate.
So stop chanting the "early detection" mantra--stop worrying about cancers that won't hurt you--and start enjoying life instead.