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Independent News For The Australian Public Service
Edition Number 400. Updated Tuesday, 11 March 2014

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New resource on prostate tests

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has released a new resource for health practitioners and their patients outlining the risks and benefits of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) testing.

Chief Executive of the NHMRC, Professor Warwick Anderson, said it was important that health practitioners discussed both the potential benefits and harms of PSA testing with patients before ordering a PSA test.

"This resource offers balanced, evidence-based information that health practitioners can use when discussing PSA testing with patients," Professor Anderson said.

Risks and benefits outlined

In Australia, around 20,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed each year.

The early detection and management of prostate cancer, however, remains a complex issue.

The document was developed by NHMRC and funded by the Department of Health, which also funded the underlying evidence review.

For every 1,000 men aged 60 years tested, it is estimated that 28 will have prostate cancer diagnosed as a result of the PSA test, many of whom would have remained asymptomatic for life. This was a sign of over-diagnosis, the review said.

Twenty-five of them will choose to undergo surgery or radiation because of uncertainty about which cancers need to be treated, but many of them would do well without treatment. This indicated overtreatment, it said.

Seven out of 10 of these 25 men will develop persistent impotence and/or urinary incontinence, and some will develop persistent bowel problems, due to treatment.

For further information go to this PS News link.

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