I don't take my PSA reading very seriously.
In the new study, the researchers examined age-specific prostate cancer incidence and treatment data to figure out the effect of PSA screening on the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer.
Overall, 1.3 million men were diagnosed with prostate cancer that wouldn't have been discovered without the PSA initiative, and more than one million of these men were treated between 1986 and 2005. Health.com: Cancer survival depends on where you liveAssuming that the decline in prostate cancer deaths over this time could be attributed to these screenings, the researchers estimated that for every one man who avoids a death, more than 20 men -- and as many as 50 -- had to be overdiagnosed and treated needlessly."[Of those] maybe one-third will have treatment problems such as impotence or incontinence," says Welch. Treatments for prostate cancer, including the surgical removal of the prostate gland, can result in such conditions, or even death.Younger men are at greater riskThe increased diagnosis was most pronounced in younger men, the study showed. Since 1986, prostate cancer diagnoses among men in their 50s had tripled, and there had been a sevenfold increase in diagnoses in men in their 40s. Health.com: Do you really need that medical test?
"I was surprised by how much growth there has been in younger men," says Welch. "We are taking what was an old man's disease and turning it into a young man's disease. And some of the treatment side effects such as impotence and incontinence are even bigger problems when they start occurring in younger men." [More]
Of course, I'm over 60 - which changes the calculation considerably, compared to younger people. But our culture has a way of focusing on the 1 person saved and identifying with him to the exclusion of the 20 who are put at risk needlessly.
Of course, my goal is for all my health insurance premiums to be money unrecovered, too.