Latest News Prostate Cancer

Feb 2014

The European Randomized Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer (ERSPC) is the largest and longest running trial of PSA based screening versus no screening of men in the world.

The 13-year follow-up of 34,833 men aged 55-69 recruited in the study's Dutch centre has previously shown a prostate cancer specific reduction in mortality of 32% in favour of screened men compared with unscreened men. However, the latest statistical analysis of the two groups after correction for further factors such as non-attendance for screening and 'contamination' in the control arm of the trial due to men actually having a PSA, has now shown that for any individual man, screening reduces the risk of dying from prostate cancer by up to 51%!

Despite this excellent news in favour of an organised screening programme, men requesting a PSA should still be warned of the risks of screening: mainly over-diagnosis and over-treatment of insignificant cancer, and the smaller risk of missing a cancer due to a normal PSA. Furthermore, the benefit of screening only applied to men aged 55-69 at recruitment but for men aged 70 or more, screening conferred no benefit.

This information is critical for GPs and men trying to make an informed decision on PSA-based screening for prostate cancer which currently kills nearly 11,000 UK men each year.