Background: Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) based screening for prostate cancer (PCa) has been shown to reduce prostate specific mortality by 20% in an intention to screen (ITS) analysis in a randomised trial (European Randomised Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer [ERSPC]). This effect may be diluted by nonattendance in men randomised to the screening arm and contamination in men randomised to the control arm.
Objective: To assess the magnitude of the PCa-specific mortality reduction after adjustment for nonattendance and contamination.
Design, setting, and participants: We analysed the occurrence of PCa deaths during an average follow-up of 9 yr in 162,243 men 55-69 yr of age randomised in seven participating centres of the ERSPC. Centres were also grouped according to the type of randomisation (ie, before or after informed written consent).
Intervention: Nonattendance was defined as nonattending the initial screening round in ERSPC. The estimate of contamination was based on PSA use in controls in ERSPC Rotterdam.
Measurements: Relative risks (RRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were compared between an ITS analysis and analyses adjusting for nonattendance and contamination using a statistical method developed for this purpose.
Results and limitations: In the ITS analysis, the RR of PCa death in men allocated to the intervention arm relative to the control arm was 0.80 (95% CI, 0.68-0.96). Adjustment for nonattendance resulted in a RR of 0.73 (95% CI, 0.58-0.93), and additional adjustment for contamination using two different estimates led to estimated reductions of 0.69 (95% CI, 0.51-0.92) to 0.71 (95% CI, 0.55-0.93), respectively. Contamination data were obtained through extrapolation of single-centre data. No heterogeneity was found between the groups of centres.
Conclusions: PSA screening reduces the risk of dying of PCa by up to 31% in men actually screened. This benefit should be weighed against a degree of overdiagnosis and overtreatment inherent in PCa screening.