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Single prostate test championed

A new prostate cancer study has revealed that a single blood test for men aged 60 could help identify those most likely to develop and die from the disease.

A team from the University of Florida examined six screening trials involving 387,286 participants. But while they found routine screening helped doctors diagnose prostate cancer at an earlier stage, the precautionary tests did not reduce death rates and increased the risk of over-treatment.

Meanwhile, a second study, headed by Professor Hans Lilja, showed that giving men aged 60 a single "prostate-specific antigen" (PSA) level test strongly predicted their risk of diagnosis and death from prostate cancer.

The team found 90% of prostate cancer deaths occurred in men with the highest PSA levels at age 60, while men with average or low PSA levels were unlikely to develop or die from prostate cancer by the age of 85. At least half of men aged 60 and above might be exempt from further prostate cancer screening in the future.

According to the Office for National Statistics, 35,000 British men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year, but medical experts remain split, with some believing that over-diagnosis and unnecessary treatment outweighs the benefits of early screening.

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Office for National Statistics