Prostate-specific antigen testing rates remain low in UK general practice: A cross-sectional study in six English cities - Abstract

Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences, University of Oxford based at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, UK.

University Department of Oncology, Addenbrooke's Hospital, CambridgeSchool of Social and Community Medicine, Bristol University, Bristol; Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.



Study Type - Practice patterns (retrospective cohort) Level of Evidence 2b.

What is known on the subject? and what does the study add? There is no organized screening programme for prostate cancer in the UK, although men can request a PSA test at their general practice. The testing rate had been estimated at 6% per year among 45-84 year old men during 2001 to 2007. Our study estimated the annual practice-based PSA testing rate for men aged 45-89 years with no previous diagnosis of prostate cancer at 6.2% during 2007. This is very similar to the rate found in the earlier study. Older men and men at general practices situated in more affluent areas were found to be most likely to undergo a PSA test, suggesting that uptake of the test is not reflecting clinical need.

To estimate rates of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing in UK general practices by age, deprivation index and geographical location.

Practice-based, retrospective data on PSA testing patterns in 2007 were collected from a random sample of 87 general practices using EMIS LV computer systems within the passively observed non-intervention arm of a cluster-randomized controlled trial. Information for a total of 126 716 men aged 45-89 years with no recorded diagnosis of prostate cancer prior to 1 January 2007 was collected.

In all, 7902 (6.2%) of 126 716 men aged 45-89 without a prior diagnosis of prostate cancer underwent at least one PSA test from their general practitioner during 2007 [95% confidence interval (CI) 5.6-7.0%; practice-based inter-quartile range 3.6-8.4%]. PSA testing rates were 1.4% (95% CI 1.1-1.6%) in men aged 45-49, rising to 11.3% (95% CI 10.0-12.9%) at age 75-79 years (P for trend < 0.001). Testing rates were lowest in the three northern centres (3.5-5.7%) vs the three more southern centres (7.1-8.9%; P < 0.001). For every 20 points increase in the index of multiple deprivation score, the proportion of men tested fell by 1.7% (95% CI -2.5 to -0.8%; P < 0.001). Lower proportions of men were subsequently diagnosed with prostate cancer in practices testing more men (odds ratio for a one unit increase in the natural log of testing 0.76; 95% CI 0.60-0.97; P= 0.025).

Overall levels of PSA testing in UK general practice remain low, but for those tested there are important variations by age, deprivation and geographical location that do not appear to reflect clinical need or the intention of current policy. PSA testing in general practice is currently skewed towards older men, and current policy enabling all men to make an informed choice about PSA testing is not being effectively implemented as uptake clearly varies by socioeconomic status. This reinforces the need for robust evidence regarding the costs and benefits of using the PSA test for the detection of localized prostate cancer in the UK, a full assessment of the health economic implications and a revision of the current policy.

Written by:
Williams N, Hughes LJ, Turner EL, Donovan JL, Hamdy FC, Neal DE, Martin RM, Metcalfe C.   Are you the author?

Reference: BJU Int. 2011 Apr 11. Epub ahead of print.
doi: 10.1111/j.1464-410X.2011.10163.x

PubMed Abstract
PMID: 21481132 Prostate Cancer Section



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