Health: Test Grade?

The standard screening for prostate cancer, the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test, is already controversial because early detection does not necessarily translate into saved lives. Now a study reports that the test, which recommends biopsies for men with PSA blood levels of more than 4 nanograms per milliliter, misses 82% of cancers in men under 60. Lowering the threshold for biopsy to 2.6, the study's authors suggest, would double the cancer-detection rate. Critics, however, caution that lowering the PSA threshold could result in overdiagnosis and needless anxiety. --D.B.


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