Europe – Prostate Cancer Screening: No Effect on Overall Mortality

Routine prostate-specific antigen (PSA)–based screening for prostate cancer remains controversial, as the debate continues over the balance between potential benefits and potential harm.

A new systematic review and meta-analysis has found that at best, prostate cancer screening using a PSA blood test leads to a small reduction in disease-specific mortality over 10 years, but it is no effect on overall mortality.

The article was published online September 5 in the BMJ.

PSA screening was also associated with considerable biopsy-related and cancer treatment–related complications. Using modeling, the authors estimated that for every 1000 men screened, approximately one man would require hospitalization for sepsis, three men would require pads for urinary incontinence, and 25 men would experience erectile dysfunction.

So when men ask about prostate cancer screening, what should their physicians tell them?

That question is addressed in an accompanying editorial by Martin Roland, BM, BCh, DM, FRCGP, FRCP, FMedSci, professor emeritus of health services research at the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, and colleagues…