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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Pfizer reprimanded over misleading cox-2 claims

GPs are taking widely varying approaches to PSA testing in asymptomatic men and are unwilling to talk patients out of taking a test.

A survey of 400 GPs found 24 per cent reported testing no asymptomatic patients in the previous three months, but 13 per cent said they had tested six or more.

A third of GPs felt the decision on testing should be shared between doctor and patient, half that the patient should take it after seriously considering the GP's view and 13 per cent that it was the patient's alone.

The University of Oxford study, published in BMC Family Practice (June), found only 3 per cent of GPs would reassure a man he did not need a PSA test, although just 5 per cent would conduct a test without counselling.

Dr James Kingsland, a GP in Wallasey, Merseyside, and member of the prostate cancer risk management programme scientific advisory group, said he was surprised by the figures and urged GPs to be more confident in advising asymptomatic men against testing.

He said: 'I'd like to think we're giving patients information on benefits and risks but still giving some professional steer. It is difficult to give black-and-white answers, but if there's a clear reason not to do it then you should say No.'

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