Risk stratification in prostate cancer screening


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Abstract

Screening for prostate cancer is a controversial topic within the field of urology. The US Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial did not demonstrate any difference in prostate-cancer-related mortality rates between men screened annually rather than on an ‘opportunistic’ basis. However, in the world's largest trial to date—the European Randomised Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer—screening every 2-4 years was associated with a 21% reduction in prostate-cancer-related mortality rate after 11 years. Citing the uncertain ratio between potential harm and potential benefit, the US Preventive Services Task Force recently recommended against serum PSA screening. Although this ratio has yet to be elucidated, PSA testing—and early tumour detection—is undoubtedly beneficial for some individuals. Instead of adopting a ‘one size fits all’ approach, physicians are likely to perform personalized risk assessment to minimize the risk of negative consequences, such as anxiety, unnecessary testing and biopsies, overdiagnosis, and overtreatment. The PSA test needs to be combined with other predictive factors or be used in a more thoughtful way to identify men at risk of symptomatic or life-threatening cancer, without overdiagnosing indolent disease. A risk-adapted approach is needed, whereby PSA testing is tailored to individual risk.

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