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Lower prostate cancer screening rates linked to subsequent increase in advanced prostate cancer in VA system

PSA screening rates for prostate cancer declined from 2005 to 2019 for millions of men in 128 facilities of the Veterans Administration health system, while at the same time diagnoses of advanced prostate cancer increased by 72 percent.

The greater the decrease in yearly screening in facilities, the greater the subsequent rate of metastatic prostate cancer.

“This study provides evidence that facilities that are more intensively screening men may be reducing the risk of metastatic prostate cancer later,” said Alex K. Bryant, MD, lead author of the study and a radiation oncology resident physician at the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

He said his team will continue to analyze VA records to gauge whether screening rates are associated with prostate cancer mortality. Further analyses will also include racial and ethnic differences in PSA screening rates and potential disparities in how screening affects long-term outcomes among high-risk groups. Of particular interest is how screening rates and outcomes for Black patients may differ, since Black men face double the risk of dying from prostate cancer compared to men of other races.

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