Overdiagnosis of prostate cancer is a problem in the United States, according to a study that found as many as 42 percent of prostate cancer tumors detected through prostate specific antigen (PSA) screening tests are too slow-growing to ever be a threat.
Researchers used three different models to analyze prostate cancer diagnosed in U.S. men ages 54 to 80 between 1985 and 2000. They found that between 23 percent and 42 percent of PSA-detected prostate cancers would otherwise not have been detected in the patient's lifetime, the Associated Press reported.
The study was published online Tuesday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Overdiagnosis of prostate cancer is a concern, because detecting an early tumor forces men to decide between watchful waiting, radiation, surgery, or hormone therapy. Some treatments cause side effects such as impotence and incontinence, which means that men with tumors that pose no threat may needlessly suffer treatment-related complications, the AP reported.
The study "reinforces the message that we are overdiagnosing prostate cancer," said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld of the American Cancer Society.