Prostate cancer screening in primary care

South Med J. 1999 Mar;92(3):300-4. doi: 10.1097/00007611-199903000-00008.


Background: Little is known about the actual frequency with which men have prostate screening in primary care settings, nor are the determinants of screening understood.

Methods: We examined the records of 50 consecutive primary care office visits by men aged 50 or older. Men were asked to complete a brief questionnaire outlining their previous use of prostate screening services and the factors that influenced screening.

Results: Screening in the previous year with digital rectal examination (DRE) and prostate specific antigen (PSA) was reported by 46% and 30% of respondents, respectively. Most respondents (86%) had heard of prostate screening and most (78%) believed it was effective. The only factor predictive of screening with DRE in multivariate analysis was a doctor's discussion of screening (odds ratio, 4.8). Two factors were predictive of PSA screening--knowing someone who had prostate cancer (odds ratio, 12.8) and advancing age (odds ratio [per year], 1.1).

Conclusions: Many men are not having annual prostate screening. Men who were older, who reported knowing someone with prostate cancer, and whose doctors discussed screening, were more likely to have been screened in the past year.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / diagnosis*