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Regular testing for prostate cancer may be harmful

To screen for prostate cancer currently, the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is the only widely used test available.

According to an international panel of experts, routine testing for prostate cancer is not recommended for most men as it has uncertain benefits and clear harms. However, the researchers said that for some men, such as those with a family history of prostate cancer, discussions about possible harms and benefits of regular screening with their doctor is essential.

According to the PTI report, panel of international experts including those from University of Helsinki in Finland and McMaster University in Canada based their advice on the latest scientific evidence as a part of The BMJ journal's 'Rapid Recommendations' initiative to produce trustworthy guidance based on new evidence to help doctors make better decisions with their patients.

To screen for prostate cancer currently, the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is the only widely used test available.

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It is used in many countries but remains controversial because it has increased the number of healthy men diagnosed with and treated unnecessarily for harmless tumours. So an international panel carried out a detailed analysis of over 700,000 men in clinical trials.

The research found that if screening reduces prostate cancer deaths at all, the effect is very small. The panel advises against offering routine PSA screening and says most men will decline to screen because of the small and uncertain benefits and the clear harms.

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