Screening for prostate cancer with PSA testing: Current status and future directions - Abstract

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, Maryland 20850, USA.


The ultimate utility of the serum prostate specific antigen (PSA) assay as a screening test for reducing prostate cancer mortality has been an area of intense controversy since its introduction. PSA testing was not initially envisioned as a screening tool, but as a way to evaluate treatment responses in men with prostate cancer. Far in advance of evidence from randomized trials, the rapid and widespread uptake of PSA screening into US practice was initially driven by the intuitively logical assumption that the earlier one detects a malignancy, the more likely treatment is to be curative while minimizing associated harms. However, a growing body of observational evidence began to point to a substantial burden of associated overdiagnosis and overtreatment triggered by PSA testing. The interim results of several randomized clinical trials specifically designed to evaluate the impact of PSA testing on prostate cancer mortality have recently become available, but their incongruent results seem to have added fuel to the debate. This article presents a review of the literature on screening for prostate cancer with PSA testing; we include a detailed discussion of potential explanations for the contradictory results of the two largest randomized trials as well as reflections on the future of prostate cancer screening.

Written by:
Croswell JM, Kramer BS, Crawford ED.   Are you the author?

Reference: Oncology (Williston Park). 2011 May;25(6):452-60, 463.

PubMed Abstract
PMID: 21717898 Prostate Cancer Section



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