Recent Patterns Indicate PSA Testing Halt in Decline

Previously reported declines in prostate-specific antigen testing have not continued in recent years, and that approximately one-third of men age 50 years or older still receive routine PSA tests.
BY Ariela Katz
PUBLISHED May 04, 2017
A recent nationally representative study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that previously reported declines in prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing have not continued in recent years, and that approximately one-third of men age 50 years or older still receive routine PSA tests.

In 2008, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended against PSA-based prostate cancer screening among men 75 years or older, and in 2012, they recommended against PSA testing for men of all ages. As a result of these recommendations, PSA screening rates declined from 37.8 percent in 2010 to 30.8 percent in 2013 among men 50 years or older, resulting in substantial declines in reported prostate cancer incidence.

Another recent study reported a modest short-term (from 2011 to 2013) increase in the incidence of metastatic prostate cancer among men 75 years or older. This study found that in men younger than 75 years, there was an increase in the proportion of men presenting with distant metastases from 2.7 percent to 4 percent and in the proportion presenting with intermediate- and high-grade prostate cancer from 46.3 percent to 56.4 percent. This study demonstrated a significant increase in distant metastases at diagnosis in men 75 years or older, and notes that this may be a result of the 2008 and 2012 USPSTF recommendations against prostate cancer screening in this patient population.

In the JAMA study, investigators gathered data on 19,690 respondents who were 50 years or older from the 2010, 2013 and 2015 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) database, with response rates of 60.8 percent, 61.2 percent and 55.2 percent, respectively. A total of 16,196 men were included in the analysis, after those who reported a history of (or were missing data on) prostate cancer diagnosis (1,115 men) or PSA testing (1,574 men) or who had PSA testing for nonscreening reasons (805 men) were excluded.

Out of the 16,196 respondents, more than half (59 percent) were age 50 to 64, 26 percent were age 65 to 74 and 15 percent were older than 75. While data was missing for 10 respondents, 75 percent had visited a primary care physician in the past 12 months. Among men 50 years or older, unadjusted PSA testing rates for routine reasons in the past year decreased from 38.3 percent in 2010 to 31.5 percent in 2013 and remained stable at 32.1 percent through 2015.

Adjusted analyses were similar, where PSA testing in the past year was significantly lower in 2013 than in 2010, but was not significantly different between 2015 and 2013. The pattern of declining PSA testing between 2010 and 2013, but not between 2013 and 2015, was similar across age groups.

Thus, the study concluded that previously reported declines in PSA testing have not continued in recent years, and approximately a third of men 50 years or older still receive routine PSA testing. Previous declines in routine PSA testing between 2010 and 2013 did not continue in the most recent time period analyzed (between 2013 and 2015).

The study noted that continued evaluation on how testing patterns influence prostate cancer outcomes over the long term are still needed.
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