Objective: To describe trends in prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing, prostate cancer incidence and mortality in New South Wales.
Design and setting: Descriptive analysis using routinely collected data of observed trends in PSA testing from 1989 to 2006, and prostate cancer cases and deaths from 1972 to 2005 in NSW.
Main outcome measures: Age-standardised and age-specific rates and joinpoint regression to identify changes in trends; projected trends observed before the introduction of PSA testing to quantify its impact on incidence and mortality rates.
Results: The number of PSA tests per year more than doubled between 1994 and 2006. Age-standardised incidence of prostate cancer peaked in 1994, fell by 10.0% per year to 1998 and then increased by 4.9% per year from 2001 to 2005. An estimated 19 602 (43%) more men than expected from preceding trends were diagnosed with prostate cancer between 1989 and 2005 after PSA testing was introduced. The incidence of recorded advanced prostate cancer at diagnosis fell from 13.0 per 100,000 men in 1987-1991 to 7.0 per 100,000 men in 2002-2005. The age-standardised mortality from prostate cancer increased by 3.6% per year between 1984 and 1990 and then fell by 2.0% per year to 2005.
Conclusions: There was a sustained increase in prostate cancer incidence in NSW after PSA testing was introduced. While falls in the incidence of advanced disease at diagnosis and mortality from prostate cancer after 1993 are consistent with a benefit from PSA testing, other explanations cannot be excluded.