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PSA surge swamps services

Use of the PSA test is swamping urology and radiotherapy services, the Government's cancer tsar has admitted.

Professor Mike Richards told MPs the number of cases of prostate cancer being detected had increased enormously.

'There is a lot of controversy about the value of [the PSA] test, but one thing which is clear is that if people are going for the test more, you do pick up more cases. Some of those might never have caused trouble, but that is putting pressure on urologists, on radiotherapy, on a whole range of services.'

Dr Russell Thorpe, a GP in St Annes, Lancashire, and cancer lead for Flyde PCT, said it was 'obvious' reducing PSA testing would cut radiotherapy demand.

He said: 'I don't think we have shown PSA testing in healthy people is the right thing to do. I have grave reservations. It's an emotive issue but the Government needs to take a strong lead to enable GPs to say ''I will do an examination but asymptomatic men should not have this test''.'

Writing in the BMJ, Dr David Dodwell, consultant in clinical oncology at Cookridge Hospital in Leeds, said inadequate radiotherapy capacity was compromising care for cancer patients.

He added: 'If we cannot or will not remedy shortfalls in treatment capacity, we must adapt patient management strategies accordingly.'

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