Harm-to-Benefit of Three Decades of Prostate Cancer Screening in Black Men.

Prostate-specific antigen screening has profoundly affected the epidemiology of prostate cancer in the United States. Persistent racial disparities in outcomes for Black men warrant re-examination of the harms of screening relative to its cancer-specific mortality benefits in this population.

We estimated overdiagnoses and overtreatment of prostate cancer for men of all races and for Black men 50 to 84 years of age until 2016, the most recent year with treatment data available, using excess incidence relative to 1986 based on the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results registry and U.S. Census data as well as an established microsimulation model of prostate cancer natural history. Combining estimates with plausible mortality benefit, we calculated numbers needed to diagnose (NND) and treat (NNT) to prevent one prostate cancer death.

For men of all races, we estimated 1.5 to 1.9 million (range between estimation approaches) overdiagnosed and 0.9 to 1.5 million overtreated prostate cancers by 2016. Assuming that half of the 270,000 prostate cancer deaths avoided by 2016 were attributable to screening, the NND and the NNT would be 11 to 14 and 7 to 11 for men of all races and 8 to 12 and 5 to 9 for Black men, respectively. Alternative estimates incorporating a lag between incidence and mortality resulted in a NND and a NNT for Black men that reached well into the low single digits.

Complementary approaches to quantifying overdiagnosis indicate a harm-benefit tradeoff of prostate-specific antigen screening that is more favorable for Black men than for men of all races considered together. Our findings highlight the need to account for the increased value of screening in Black men in clinical guidelines. (Funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, the National Cancer Institute, the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation, and the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation.).

NEJM evidence. 2022 May 15 [Epub]

Spyridon P Basourakos, Roman Gulati, Randy A Vince, Daniel E Spratt, Patrick J Lewicki, Alexander Hill, Yaw A Nyame, Jennifer Cullen, Sarah C Markt, Christopher E Barbieri, Jim C Hu, Erika Trapl, Jonathan E Shoag

Department of Urology, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell Medical Center, New York., Division of Public Health Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle., Department of Urology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor., Department of Radiation Oncology, University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center, Cleveland., Department of Urology, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland., Department of Urology, University of Washington, Seattle., Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland.