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Ten year time-lag on prostate cancer screening

Screening for prostate cancer detects tumours an average of more than 10 years before they are likely to start producing symptoms, UK research suggests.

A study of 43,842 men aged 50 to 69 analysed data on 1,544 men diagnosed with prostate cancer through screening. The researchers estimated that 10% of patients aged 50 to 59, and 31% of those aged 60 to 69, were overdiagnosed.

The average length of time tumours did not produce symptoms after detection by PSA testing was 11.3 years in the 50 to 59 group and 12.6 years in the 60-69 group.

British Journal of Cancer 2009;100:1198-204

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