Updated results from a long-term study concludes that regular cuts the risk of death from prostate cancer.
But there was no overall difference in death rates between men who got screened and those who didn't. And the lower chances of dying of prostate cancer came at a high cost.
To prevent just one death, researchers found,1,055 men would need to be offered screening and 37 would be diagnosed with cancer and forced to make tough decision about whether or not to undergo treatment.
What's more, only two of the eight countries involved in the study saw fewer prostate cancer deaths, while the others six did not.
Screening is done with a simple blood test that measures levels of prostate-specific antigen, or PSA.
The new findings come just months after a large American study found no benefit of screening men at average risk and are unlikely to quell the current controversy over PSA testing.
Three years ago, doctors with the European Randomized Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer (ERSPC) reported that PSA testing, found 1,410 men would need to be screened to prevent one prostate cancer death.
In the process, 47 men would be diagnosed with cancer, risking side effects from treatment without benefiting.
The new results from the European team extend the follow-up period from the earlier study to 11 years on average for more than 162,000 men ages 55 to 69.
The updated study shows slightly more benefits in terms of cancer deaths than the earlier data.
Dr. Fritz Schroder, who coordinated the study, said he expects future updates to show even bigger differences between screened and unscreened men.
"On the other hand, the main downside is over-diagnosis," Schroder told Reuters Health by email, referring to the dozens of tumors that would be detected by screening, yet would never have become deadly if left alone