Screening for prostate cancer (includes patient leaflet 'Information for men considering or asking for PSA tests')

NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination
Record ID 31999008344
Authors' objectives:

To summarise the research evidence on screening for prostate cancer.

Authors' recommendations: There is increasing pressure on doctors to test men for the early detection of prostate cancer. Unlike breast cancer screening, which has been shown to reduce mortality, prostate cancer screening has not yet been evaluated and there are several reasons why it may be less effective. Many men with prostate cancer never experience any ill effects because some tumours are slow growing and not aggressive. The most sensitive screening tests for prostate cancer are based on levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA). However, the PSA test and follow up biopsies cannot predict reliably whether a man has a cancer that will progress to cause ill health or death. There have been no reliable evaluations of the effect of treatments for early prostate cancer on mortality. Active treatments can result in major complications such as incontinence and impotence. There is no evidence on the number of deaths (if any) which could be averted by screening asymptomatic men. Screening may lead to physical and psychological harm resulting from testing, biopsy and treatment. It is not known whether screening for prostate cancer does more good than harm.
Authors' methods: Systematic review
Project Status: Completed
Year Published: 1997
English language abstract: An English language summary is available
Publication Type: Not Assigned
Country: England
MeSH Terms
  • Mass Screening
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen
  • Prostatic Neoplasms
Organisation Name: University of York
Contact Address: University of York, York, Y01 5DD, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 1904 321040, Fax: +44 1904 321041,
Contact Name:
Contact Email:
Copyright: Centre for Reviews and Dissemination
This is a bibliographic record of a published health technology assessment from a member of INAHTA or other HTA producer. No evaluation of the quality of this assessment has been made for the HTA database.