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Number of men treated for prostate cancer decreases

According to a study, the number of older U.S. men treated for prostate cancer in Arizona and nationwide has dropped since doctors began curtailing the use of screening tests. The study was published in the medical journal Health Affairs.

The lead author of the study says the findings underscore the success of efforts to cut back on the use of prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, screening tests, which have become controversial. However, the research also showed that it is possible that too few men are now being screened and, of those men who are diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer, too few are taking the recommended watchful waiting approach to treatment.

PSA screening tests check the amount of a prostate-specific antigen protein in a patient's blood. However, the test is prone to false positive results, leading to patient stress and unnecessary treatments. Medical experts say that men who have the disease are more likely to die from conditions other than prostate cancer, which often progresses very slowly. Still, many patients opt for immediate treatment once they learn they have cancer. Some prostate cancer treatments are invasive and can cause incontinence and impotence. In 2011, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommended against PSA screening tests for all age groups of men, saying the potential harm outweighs the benefits.

A doctor's failure to diagnose prostate cancer could cause a patient to suffer a needlessly worsened condition. Patients who have been harmed by a delayed diagnosis may want to meet with an attorney to see what legal recourse might be available to them.

Source: FOX News, "Far fewer men being treated for prostate cancer," Jan. 20, 2017

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