There are calls for a national screening programme for prostate cancer: what is the evidence to justify such a national screening programme?

A Green, C Tait, O Aboumarzouk, B K Somani, N P Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Introduction Prostate cancer is the commonest cancer in men and a major health issue worldwide. Screening for early disease has been available for many years, but there is still no national screening programme established in the United Kingdom.
Objective To assess the latest evidence regarding prostate cancer screening and whether it meets the necessary requirements to be established as a national programme for all men.
Methods Electronic databases and library catalogues were searched electronically and manual retrieval was performed. Only primary research results were used for the analysis.
Results In recent years, several important randomised controlled trials have produced varied outcomes. In Europe the largest study thus far concluded that screening reduced prostate cancer mortality by 20%. On the contrary, a large American trial found no reduction in mortality after 7–10 years follow-up. Most studies comment on the adverse effects of screening – principally those of overdiagnosis and subsequent overtreatment.
Discussion Further information about the natural history of prostate cancer and accuracy of screening is needed before a screening programme can be truly justified. In the interim, doctors and patients should discuss the risks, benefits and sequelae of taking part in voluntary screening for prostate cancer.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-68
Number of pages5
JournalScottish Medical Journal
Volume58
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2013

Keywords

  • prostate cancer
  • prostate specific antigen
  • screening
  • systematic review

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