Cancer Council urges men to think carefully before prostate testing

A new study shows the number of prostate cancer diagnoses in Australia jumped 276% over the 20 years from 1987 to 2007.

This is a result of increased testing, lead author Associate Professor Freddy Sitas of Cancer Council NSW, said.

He said that even if a positive result is correct, unless they operate, doctors have no foolproof way of knowing if the cancer is aggressive or relatively harmless.

"Saving lives is our priority, but we urgently need a better test," Professor Sitas said.

"The tests have saved men with aggressive forms of the disease, but at a high cost."

A 27% drop in the death rate was observed over the study period, he said.

However, the increase in new cases is much greater than this.

"This indicates that many men were diagnosed with cancers that would not have harmed them."

However, the Urological Society of Australia and New Zealand has strongly refuted claims by the Cancer