The UK NSC recommendation on Prostate cancer screening/PSA testing in men over the age of 50

 
Recommendation Systematic population screening programme not recommended
Last review completed January 2016
Next review due in 2018/19
 
Key downloads
 

Prostate cancer is a serious public health problem. Evidence suggests that PSA screening can reduce prostate cancer mortality by 21%. However, strategies to manage the harms of overdiagnosis and overtreatment are not yet known. Information is provided on the risks and benefits by the Prostate Cancer Risk Management Programme.

Prostate cancer is a serious public health problem.  Evidence suggests that PSA screening can reduce prostate cancer mortality by 21%. However, strategies to manage the harms of overdiagnosis and overtreatment are not yet known. 

 

Find general information about population health screening.

Why is screening not recommended by UK NSC?

Screening is not recommended because:

  • evidence shows a benefit of prostate screening to reduce prostate cancer deaths by 21%. Despite this significant reduction, the major harms of treating men who incorrectly test positive still outweigh the benefits
  • PSA is still a poor test for prostate cancer and a more specific and sensitive test is needed
  • PSA is unable to distinguish between slow-growing and fast-growing cancers
  • besides PSA, the current evidence does not support a population screening programme using any other test

An evaluation is currently taking place which could have the potential to improve the accuracy of PSA testing to identify men at greater risk for fast-growing prostate cancers

More about Prostate Cancer

The prostate is a small gland in the pelvis that's found only in men. It's located between the penis and the bladder and surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the penis. The main function of the prostate is to help in the production of semen. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. It is responsible for 25% of newly diagnosed cases of cancer in England and Wales. The chances of developing prostate cancer increase as you get older. Most cases develop in men aged 65 or older.

» Read more about prostate cancer on NHS Choices

» Read more about prostate cancer on Cancerbackup

Stakeholders

The British Association for Cancer Research
The British Association of Urological Surgeons
Cancer Black Care
Cancer Research UK
CHAPS
Everyman
Faculty of Public Health
Macmillan
Orchid
Primary Care Urology Society
Prostate Cancer UK
Prostate Scotland
Prostate UK
Royal College of General Practitioners
Royal College of Physicians
Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
Royal College of Radiologists
Royal College of Surgeons
Society and College of Radiographers
Tackle Prostate Cancer
Tenovus

The stakeholder groups will be involved when the recommendation is next reviewed. If you think your organisation should be added, please contact us. More information for stakeholders can be found in appendix C of the UK NSC evidence review process.

Related documents

icon Option appraisal: screening for prostate cancer (update - March 2013) (PDF document, 1.13MB, 27/03/13)
icon Prostate cancer screening recommendation statement (PDF document, 71KB, 30/09/14)

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