Choosing Wisely:

Don’t perform prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing for prostate cancer screening in men with no symptoms of the disease when they are expected to live less than 10 years.

Rationale and Comments: Since PSA levels in the blood have been linked with prostate cancer, many doctors have used repeated PSA tests in the hope of finding “early” prostate cancer in men with no symptoms of the disease. Unfortunately, PSA is not as useful for screening as many have hoped because many men with prostate cancer do not have high PSA levels, and other conditions that are not cancer (such as benign prostate hyperplasia) can also increase PSA levels. Research has shown that men who receive PSA testing are less likely to die specifically from prostate cancer. However when accounting for deaths from all causes, no lives are saved, meaning that men who receive PSA screening have not been shown to live longer than men who do not have PSA screening. Men with medical conditions that limit their life expectancy to less than 10 years are unlikely to benefit from PSA screening as their probability of dying from the underlying medical problem is greater than the chance of dying from asymptomatic prostate cancer.
Sponsoring Organizations:
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology
  • Sources:
  • American College of Physicians
  • American Urological Association guidelines
  • U.S. Preventive Services Task Force
  • Disciplines:
  • Preventive Medicine
  • Urologic
  • Oncologic
  • References: • Raghavan D. PSA – Please Stop Agonizing (over prostate-specific antigen interpretation). Mayo Clin Proc. 2013 Jan;88:1-3.
    • Schroder FH, Hugosson J, Roobol MJ, Tammela TL, Ciatto S, Nelen V, Kwiatkowski M, Lujan M, Lilja H, Zappa M, Denis LJ, Recker F, Páez A, Määttänen L, Bangma CH, Aus G, Carlsson S, Villers A, Rebillard X, van der Kwast T, Kujala PM, Blijenberg BG, Stenman UH, Huber A, Taari K, Hakama M, Moss SM, de Koning HJ, Auvinen A; ERSPC Investigators. Prostate-cancer mortality at 11 years of follow-up. N Engl J Med. 2012 Mar 15;366(11):981-90.
    • Hugosson J, Carlsson S, Aus G, Bergdahl S, Khatami A, Lodding P, Pihl C-G, Stranne J, Holmberg E, Lilja H. Mortality results from the Goteborg randomized population based prostate-cancer screening trial. Lancet Oncol. 2010 Aug;11(8):725-32.
    • Andriole GL, Crawford ED, Grubb RL III, Buys SS, Chia D, Church TR, Fouad MN, Gelmann EP, Kvale PA, Reding DJ, Weissfeld JL, Yokochi LA, O’Brien B, Clapp JD, Rathmell JM, Riley TL, Hayes RB, Kramer BS, Izmirlian G, Miller AB, Pinsky PF, Prorok PC, Gohagan JK, Berg CD; PLCO Project Team. Mortality results form a randomized prostate-cancer screening trial. N Engl J Med. 2009 Mar 26;360(1):1310-9.
    • Moyer VA; U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for prostate cancer: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med. 2012 Jul 17;157(2):1-15.
    • Qaseem A, Barry MJ, Denberg TD, Owens DK, Shekelle P; Clinical Guidelines Committee of the American College of Physicians. Screening for prostate cancer: A guidance statement from the Clinical Guidelines Committee of the American College of Physicians. Ann Intern Med. 2013 May 21;158(10):761-9.
    • Carter HB, Albertson PC, Barry MJ, Etzioni R, Freedland SJ, Greene KL, Holmberg L, Kantoff P, Konety BR, Murad MH, Penson DF, Zietman AL. Early detection of prostate cancer: AUA Guideline. J Urol. 2013 Aug;190(2):419-26.
    • Basch E, Oliver TK, Vickers A, Thompson I, Kantoff P, Parnes H, Loblaw DA, Roth B, Williams J, Nam RK. Screening for prostate cancer with prostate-specific antigen testing: American Society of Clinical Oncology provisional clinical opinion. J Clin Oncol. 2012 Aug 20;30(24):3020-5.

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