RAY SUAREZ: Well, more screening and more testing resulted in more treatment. Did more treatment end up with more men living longer and healthier lives?
ANDREW VICKERS: You did see that in the European study. You saw about a 20 percent reduction in death from prostate cancer.
What the European research has pointed out, though, was that a very large number of men had to be treated in order to prevent one death from prostate cancer. It was about, roughly speaking, a 50-1 ratio.
And that's clearly a problem with screening, is you are detecting a lot of prostate cancers that would never impact a man during his life. And, in fact, we've done studies at our own institution examining the prostates of men who've already died of other causes.
And in a 70-year-old man, for example, there's about a 40 percent chance of having detectable prostate cancer on autopsy. And this is obviously, because the man died of other causes, a prostate cancer that would never have affected him and did not affect him during his lifetime.
RAY SUAREZ: So, briefly, is there a simple answer to the question, does prostate cancer screening save lives?
ANDREW VICKERS: I wish there was a simple answer to that question. I think one thing to bear in mind is we do these very large studies. And when it ends, we think, "Right, that's it, the study's ended, we have our answer." And science, really, is a little bit more complicated than that.
I think we need some time to digest the data, try and understand what it means. These studies will continue. We'll continue to follow these men. We'll continue to analyze data from these studies. And then we'll try and understand what that means and make appropriate guidelines for the U.S. public.
What I will say is that what -- the studies were designed way back in the early '90s. And they really did reflect state-of-the-art in the early '90s.
But since that time, we've learned a lot about prostate cancer. And the couple things that we've learned are really very pertinent to the issue of prostate cancer screening.
The problem with prostate cancer screening is that we're detecting too many cancers that won't affect somebody's life, and maybe we're not treating those cancers as well as we might.
What we've learned about prostate cancer in the meantime is how to treat it better and also how to tell who has an aggressive prostate cancer that really needs to be treated and who has a less aggressive prostate cancer that might be treated by what's called active surveillance.
So we're not actually going in and removing the prostate or treating it with radiation. We're just following a man over time, just to make sure that that cancer doesn't become aggressive. So I think our increased knowledge of prostate cancer...
RAY SUAREZ: I'm going to have to stop it there, Andrew Vickers, but thanks a lot for helping us out in New York.
ANDREW VICKERS: Thank you very much.