Older men gain little from PSA test - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Older men gain little from PSA test

Updated: Oct 4, 2013 09:22 AM
© Keith Brofsky / Photodisc / Thinkstock © Keith Brofsky / Photodisc / Thinkstock

FRIDAY, Oct. 4 (HealthDay News) -- The large amount of money that Medicare spends on PSA screening for prostate cancer provides little benefit for older men, according to a new study.

Over three years, the Medicare fee-for-service program spent more than $450 million a year on PSA (prostate-specific antigen) screenings, one-third of which was for men over age 75, said the researchers at Yale University's Cancer Outcomes, Public Policy and Effectiveness Research Center.

But most prostate cancers are slow-growing and unlikely to become a threat to older men, noted the researchers, who followed prostate cancer-free, older male Medicare beneficiaries. The investigators also noted that widespread PSA screening may lead to unnecessary biopsies, which can be uncomfortable and even harmful.

In 2012, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force stopped recommending PSA screening for men of any age. However, Medicare continues to reimburse for this test and follow-up procedures.

The benefits of PSA screening and treatment are not clear, the study authors said. While men living in high-spending regions were more likely to be diagnosed with localized cancers, they were not significantly less likely to be diagnosed with metastatic (spreading) cancer. This suggests that spending more on prostate cancer screening might identify more localized tumors, but may not necessarily reduce the rate of metastatic cancers.

The study, published in the Oct. 4 issue of the journal Cancer, also found wide variation in the cost of prostate cancer screenings in different regions of the country, ranging from $16 to $65 per Medicare beneficiary. Most of the variation was not due to the cost of the PSA test itself, but rather to differences in the costs of follow-up tests.

"More than 70 percent of prostate cancer screening-related costs were due to follow-up procedures," study author Xiaomei Ma said in a Yale news release. "Our results suggest that the overall cost of prostate cancer screening may be heavily influenced by how urologists choose to respond to the result of a PSA test, more so than the use of the PSA itself."

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about the PSA test.

Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

  • National Health NewsGeneral Health NewsMore>>

  • Vitamin D may not lower seniors' fall risk

    Vitamin D may not lower seniors' fall risk

    Taking vitamin D supplements does little to reduce seniors' risk of falls, a new review finds.More >>
    Taking vitamin D supplements does little to reduce seniors' risk of falls, a new review finds.More >>
  • Scientists study gene clues from 115-year-old woman

    Scientists study gene clues from 115-year-old woman

    More than 400 mutations were found in the healthy white blood cells of a 115-year-old woman, according to a new study that may advance what is known about limits of the human life span.More >>
    More than 400 mutations were found in the healthy white blood cells of a 115-year-old woman, according to a new study that may advance what is known about limits of the human life span.More >>
  • Mental illness not a driving force behind crime

    Mental illness not a driving force behind crime

    TUESDAY, April 22, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Less than 10 percent of crimes committed by mentally ill people are directly linked to the symptoms of their disorders, a new study shows. "When we hear about crimes committed by people with mental illness, they tend to be big headline-making crimes, so they get stuck in people's heads," said study author Jillian Peterson, a psychology professor at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minn. "The vast majority of people with mental illness a...More >>
    TUESDAY, April 22, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Less than 10 percent of crimes committed by mentally ill people are directly linked to the symptoms of their disorders, a new study shows. "When we hear about crimes committed by people with mental illness, they tend to be big headline-making crimes, so they get stuck in people's heads," said study author Jillian Peterson, a psychology professor at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minn. "The vast majority of people with mental illness a...More >>
*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in or provided through this site section is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site section and any information contained on or provided through this site section is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site section is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KHQ. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.