Picture: Test tubes 
A test can yield risks
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"This study emphasizes the importance of doctors' discussing the pros and cons of prostate cancer screening with patients," said the study's lead author David Katz, M.D., associate professor of internal medicine in the University of Iowa (UI) Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine. "Because screening affects a large number of men relative to those who are expected to benefit from treatment, even a small adverse effect of apparently false-positive results on cancer-related worry and quality of life could have a substantial impact on public health," said Katz.

The study team interviewed 101 men who had normal PSA (prostate specific antigen) levels and 109 men who had an abnormal PSA reading or abnormal digital rectal examination, but whose biopsy for prostate cancer then was negative. Men with false-positives were about three times as likely to report being at least somewhat worried about getting prostate cancer and nearly twice as likely to report being bothered by their sexual function.

Katz said that the increased problems with sexual function reported by men with false-positives could be a residual effect of the biopsy, which can cause short-term pain or other side effects, or it could be an effect from worry about the possibility of still having cancer. "Men's perceptions following a false-positive prostate screening test are parallel to those of women who have an abnormal mammography exam but whose follow-up biopsy shows no breast cancer," Katz said. "It's understandable that false-positive prostate exams could affect men's outlook on their health."

As with other prostate cancer screening studies, the UI-led study raises the question whether men without any prostate cancer symptoms should receive PSA testing.

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Iowa