Prostate cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in the UK and causes over 9500 deaths each year. The incidence of prostate cancer appears to be rising. It is difficult to know whether this reflects a real increase, an increase in case finding, or the fact that men are living longer and failing to die from other causes. Intuitively, it would seem obvious that early detection of prostate cancer would lead to earlier treatment and an increased cure rate.
In the US, where treatment has been historically more aggressive than in the UK, death rates from prostate cancer have gone down (despite increasing incidence). Surgical pundits attribute this to earlier surgery. This is not entirely supported by data.
Screening can be defined as a performance of tests in apparently well men, to detect those with unrecognized prostate cancer. The ultimate aim of screening is to reduce morbidity and mortality from a disease by its detection and treatment before symptoms appear.
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