Prostate-specific antigen screening for prostate cancer and the risk of overt metastatic disease at presentation: analysis of trends over time

Cancer. 2012 Dec 1;118(23):5768-76. doi: 10.1002/cncr.27503. Epub 2012 Jul 30.


Background: The objective of this study was to estimate the total number of patients who would be expected to present with metastatic (M1) prostate cancer (PC) in the modern US population in a given year if the age-specific and race-specific annual incidence rates of M1 PC were the same as the rates in the era before prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing.

Methods: The authors computed the total number of men who presented with M1 PC in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) 9 registries area in the year 2008 (the most recent SEER year) and estimated the number of cases that would be expected to occur in this area in the year 2008 in the absence of PSA testing. The expected number was computed by multiplying each age-race-specific average annual incidence rate from the pre-PSA era (1983-1985) by the number of men in the corresponding age-race category in the year 2008 and adding the products.

Results: In the year 2008, the observed and expected numbers of men presenting with M1 PC in the SEER 9 registries area were 739 and 2277, respectively, with an expected-to-observed ratio of 3.1 (95% confidence interval, 3.0-3.2). If this ratio was applied to the total US population in the year 2008, then the total number of men presenting with M1 PC in that year would be equal to approximately 25,000 instead of the approximately 8000 actually observed.

Conclusions: If the pre-PSA era rates were present in the modern US population, then the total number of men presenting with M1 PC would be approximately 3 times greater than the number actually observed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Early Detection of Cancer*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / blood*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / blood
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Risk
  • SEER Program


  • Prostate-Specific Antigen