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Abandon PSA test for prostate cancer, Canadian group says

The long-used test can lead to false positives and unnecessary complications, the task force said.

By Ed Adamczyk
The Canadian Medical assn. recommends an end to PSA prostate-screening teats (CC/ Canadian Medical Assn.)
The Canadian Medical assn. recommends an end to PSA prostate-screening teats (CC/ Canadian Medical Assn.)

OTTAWA, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- A Canadian task force recommended Monday a common screening test for prostate cancer should be abandoned.

The blood test, known as the prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, test, leads to false positive results and unnecessary treatments whose harm can outweigh their benefit, the Canadian Task Force on Preventative Health Care reported.

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The findings were published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

"Despite 20 years, the amount of evidence that's been brought forward is disappointingly small," said Dr. James Dickinson of the University of Calgary, a panel member. "The enthusiasts are enthusiastic despite minimal evidence."

The task force reviewed global practices in reaching its conclusion.

"Available evidence does not conclusively show that PSA screening will reduce prostate cancer mortality, but it clearly shows an elevated risk of harm. The task force recommends that the PSA test should not be used to screen for prostate cancer.

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The PSA test measures prostate inflammation, and the results can be elevated for an assortment of reasons other than cancer, the task force concluded. A positive PSA tests typically leads to more testing and a biopsy, the surgical removal of tissue to determine the presence or extent of a disease, which carries risks of bleeding and infection.

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