Researchers at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., said their findings support routine, early PSA screening for healthy men.
"There has been some controversy over the value of PSA screening beginning at age 40, but the data from this study strongly suggests that early screening can help us stratify patients' risk and identify those who need to be followed most closely from this younger age group. That, in turn, may help save lives," Dr. Judd Moul, the senior author, said in a statement.
The study, published in the journal Cancer, finds men with an initial PSA of less than 4 had a very low risk of death resulting from prostate cancer. Men with a score of 4 to 9.9 were three times more likely to die of prostate cancer than those with PSAs under 2.5.
Moul and colleagues tracked 4,568 men -- median age of 65 -- from the Duke Prostate Center who had PSA tests during the past 20 years and who were diagnosed with prostate cancer. During the study period, 3.5 percent of the men died of prostate cancer while more than 20 percent died of other causes.