Impact of the United States Preventive Services Task Force ‘D’ recommendation on prostate cancer screening and staging

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Abstract

Purpose of review

In 2012, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued a grade ‘D’ recommendation against the use of routine prostate-specific antigen (PSA)-based screening for any men. This recommendation reflects critical misinterpretations of the available evidence base regarding benefits and harms of PSA screening and has influenced the nationwide landscape of prostate cancer screening, diagnosis, and treatment.

Recent findings

Following the USPSTF recommendation, a substantial decline in PSA screening was noted for all age groups. Similarly, overall rates of prostate biopsy and prostate cancer incidence have significantly decreased with a shift toward higher grade and stage disease upon diagnosis. Concurrently, the incidence of metastatic prostate cancer has significantly risen in the United States. These trends are concerning particularly for the younger men with occult high-grade disease who are expected to benefit the most from early detection and definitive prostate cancer treatment.

Summary

These emerging trends in PSA screening and prostate cancer incidence following the USPSTF recommendation may have significant public health implications. Due to the long natural history of the disease, a long-term follow-up is needed to provide a better understanding on the implications of such recommendations on disease progression and mortality rates in prostate cancer patients. The future of US screening policy should reflect a targeted ‘smarter’ screening strategy rather than dichotomizing the decision between ‘screen all’ or ‘screen none’.

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