Prostate cancer screening and informed decision-making: provider and patient perspectives

Prostate Cancer Prostatic Dis. 2011 Jun;14(2):155-61. doi: 10.1038/pcan.2010.55. Epub 2011 Jan 18.


The objective was to determine the extent of informed decision making for prostate cancer screening in a defined population. A state-wide population based survey of men aged 50 and above (Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2004, Washington state) and a simple random sample of primary care physicians, were conducted in the same geographic area. We examined prostate cancer screening rates among the men (defined as either PSA or digital rectal examination within the past year) and prostate cancer screening practices among the physicians. Screening rates were 56% at ages 50-64, 68% at ages 65-79 and 64% among men age 80 and older. Adjusted analyses indicated that age, income, marital status, possessing health insurance and a personal health care provider, and talking with a provider about prostate cancer screening tests were all positively associated with screening status. In the physician survey, most physicians recommend screening to their average-risk male patients. Three-fourths (74%) of physicians discussed benefits and risks of PSA testing with their patients; but few used educational tools. Only 35% discussed the side effects of prostate cancer treatment with their patients. The rates of screening reported by men were relatively high, given that current recommendations promote informed decision making rather than universal screening. The majority of physicians recommend prostate cancer screening to their patients, with few decision-making tools used. All relevant information may not be provided in the discussion. These results point to the need for increasing informed decision making about prostate cancer screening.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Decision Making*
  • Early Detection of Cancer / methods
  • Early Detection of Cancer / statistics & numerical data*
  • General Practice / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Washington