A new study could reinstate the confidence in a widely used prostate cancer screening test, which previously stirred controversy by broadly diagnosing men with cancer.

Researchers from Sweden and the United States published thir findings in BMJ, and focused on men between the ages of 40 and 55 who provided blood samples for the prostate specific antigen screening, or PSA test.

PSA is specific to the male prostate gland and a molecule detected in the blood. At high levels it could indicate a risk for prostate cancer. It brewed controversy when doctors screen otherwise healthy men with no signs of the cancer and detected high levels of PSA. But these higher counts do not necessarily mean they have prostate cancer and could have been caused by enlarged prostate glands or ejaculation.

By narrowing in on this age group, researchers found that the PSA levels correlated with higher death rates from prostate cancer. Specifically, 44 percent of deaths were in those between the ages 45 and 49 with the top 10 percent of PSA levels. Death by prostate cancer was 10 times greater within this age group compared to men with the lower PSA levels.

"Particular focus should be placed on men in the highest 10% of PSA concentrations at age 45-55, who will contribute close to half of all deaths from prostate cancer occurring before the age of 70-75," researchers said in the study. "Some of these men will have concentrations above current thresholds for consideration of biopsy."

Their previous study from 2010 showed that the PSA screening by the age of 60 strongly predicted chances of dying from prostate cancer by the time the men reach 85. Researchers say together with this study, they can reach a simpler procedure. All men between mid to late 40s are recommended for PSA screening with the following guidelines.

  • For those with PSA levels less than 1.0 micrograms per liter are advised to return in early 50s then again at age 60
  • Those who have greater than PSA levels of 1.0 micrograms per liter should return more frequently, specifically testing every two or four years

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center who also led the study created other prediction tools for various stages of cancer that could be found here.

Prostate cancer is the second deadliest cancer, right after lung cancer, among American men. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 238,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in 2013, while nearly 29, 720 men will die of prostate cancer. The average age by the time a man is diagnosed is around 67.