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The new study's estimate of U.S. overdiagnosis probably is too low -- because since 2000, doctors have begun performing biopsies for lower PSA levels than once were the trigger, wrote Dr. Michael Barry of Massachusetts General Hospital in an accompanying editorial.
It's a confusing issue, acknowledged the cancer society's Lichtenfeld.
It boils down to: "If we diagnose this disease, are we making your life better? We know that for other cancers," such as breast, cervical and colorectal, which have strong evidence showing early detection hugely improves survival, he said.
Major studies are under way that in a few years should offer better guidance for prostate cancer screening, and scientists are furiously hunting new tests that might help pinpoint who has a worrisome tumor and who can relax.
"We're waiting for that evidence. Hopefully we'll have it in the not too distant future, but we really don't have the best answer right now," added Lichtenfeld, who stressed the importance of discussing potential benefits and risks with a doctor.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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