Prostate Cancer

Ideas on PSA screening and tests on demand

Men with cancer or suspected cancer give their views about PSA screening and testing on demand. 

In spite of the fact that screening is of uncertain value men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer are often in favour of screening. This is reflected in these interviews, although there are exceptions who would not support the introduction of a national screening programme. Some men were optimistic about treatment and thought that early detection via screening would help to cure or control the disease. 

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Others were suspicious that the government is reluctant to recommend PSA testing because of cost implications. Some men expressed their concern that the government spends much money on breast screening or AIDS while relatively little money is spent on prostate cancer. Other men had heard about research in the USA or Austria which could be interpreted as supporting screening (although the evidence is far from conclusive).

Only four men expressed serious concerns about PSA testing and screening. Two men wished they had never been tested themselves, and said that extensive 'counselling' should be offered before PSA testing (see 'The PSA test', Interviews 3 and 22 for more details). Two other men also voiced their concern that population screening might be unhelpful and do more harm than good.

Due to the uncertainties surrounding PSA testing and treatments for prostate cancer, it is very important that men who request a PSA test receive balanced information about the pros and cons to assist them in making an informed shared decision about being tested. This information should be provided by their GP or healthcare provider before the PSA test is carried out. The Prostate Cancer Risk Management Programme has written a Patient Information Sheet on PSA testing that should be given to all men considering a PSA test.

For more information about PSA testing see the Healthtalk - PSA testing website.

Last reviewed July 2017.

Last updated January 2014.

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