Objective: Prostate cancer in the United Kingdom is mainly diagnosed from primary care referrals based on national guidelines published by the Department of Health. Here we investigated the characteristics of cancers detected through the use of these guidelines.
Methods: A prospective two-centre study was established to assess men referred from the primary care based on the UK national guidelines.
Results: The overall cancer detection rate was 43% (169 out of 397) with 15% (26 out of 169) of all cancers metastatic at presentation. Amongst 50-69-year-old men these rates were 34% (68 out of 200) and 15% (10 out of 68). Only 21% (25 out of 123) of men with local cancers had low-risk disease. In comparison to a historical cohort from 2001 (n=137) we found no overall differences in rates of metastatic disease, locally advanced tumours, or risk categories. Amongst 50-69-year-old men with local disease, however, we observed an increase in detection of low-risk cancers in a contemporary cohort (P=0.04). This was primarily because of the increased detection of low-stage organ-confined tumours in this group (P=0.02).
Conclusion: Use of the UK prostate cancer guidelines detects a high proportion of clinically significant cancers. Use of the guidelines does not seem to have led to an overall change in the clinical characteristics of presenting cancers. There may, however, be a specific benefit in detecting more low-risk disease in younger men.