Overdetection, overtreatment and costs in prostate-specific antigen screening for prostate cancer

Br J Cancer. 2009 Dec 1;101(11):1833-8. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6605422. Epub 2009 Nov 10.


Background: Prostate cancer screening with prostate-specific antigen (PSA) has shown to reduce prostate cancer mortality in the European Randomised study of Screening for Prostate Cancer (ERSPC) trial. Overdetection and overtreatment are substantial unfavourable side effects with consequent healthcare costs. In this study the effects of introducing widespread PSA screening is evaluated.

Methods: The MISCAN model was used to simulate prostate cancer growth and detection in a simulated cohort of 100,000 men (European standard population) over 25 years. PSA screening from age 55 to 70 or 75, with 1, 2 and 4-year-intervals is simulated. Number of diagnoses, PSA tests, biopsies, treatments, deaths and corresponding costs for 100,000 men and for United Kingdom and United States are compared.

Results: Without screening 2378 men per 100,000 were predicted to be diagnosed with prostate cancer compared with 4956 men after screening at 4-year intervals. By introducing screening, the costs would increase with 100% to 60,695,000 euro. Overdetection is related to 39% of total costs (23,669,000 euro). Screening until age 75 is relatively most expensive because of the costs of overtreatment.

Conclusion: Introduction of PSA screening will increase total healthcare costs for prostate cancer substantially, of which the actual screening costs will be a small part.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Computer Simulation
  • Costs and Cost Analysis / methods
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / economics
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Statistical
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / blood*
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / economics
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / blood*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / economics
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology


  • Prostate-Specific Antigen