Sep 03

Men in their fifties are now 3.6 times more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than before the PSA test. Men younger than 50 are now 7.2 times more likely to be diagnosed, according to the study.( AFP/Getty Images)

OTTAWA — More than one million American men have gone through needless treatment for prostate cancer since the PSA test became common more than 20 years ago, a medical journal study says.

And the study’s author says Canadian men face the same problem of “overdiagnosis,” causing them to have surgery and radiation treatment that can cause impotence, incontinence and pain.

This doesn’t mean diagnosing cancer where none exists, says the study and editorial in Monday’s Journal of the National Cancer Institute. It means that many men had a form of cancer that could have been left alone safely.

Doctors have long known this can happen with PSA tests, which measure a chemical in the body whose level increases when prostate cancer is present, the study says. But the authors claims to have the first firm count of how many men are affected.

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