Implications of polygenic risk-stratified screening for prostate cancer on overdiagnosis

Genet Med. 2015 Oct;17(10):789-95. doi: 10.1038/gim.2014.192. Epub 2015 Jan 8.


Purpose: This study aimed to quantify the probability of overdiagnosis of prostate cancer by polygenic risk.

Methods: We calculated the polygenic risk score based on 66 known prostate cancer susceptibility variants for 17,012 men aged 50-69 years (9,404 men identified with prostate cancer and 7,608 with no cancer) derived from three UK-based ongoing studies. We derived the probabilities of overdiagnosis by quartiles of polygenic risk considering that the observed prevalence of screen-detected prostate cancer is a combination of underlying incidence, mean sojourn time (MST), test sensitivity, and overdiagnosis.

Results: Polygenic risk quartiles 1 to 4 comprised 9, 18, 25, and 48% of the cases, respectively. For a prostate-specific antigen test sensitivity of 80% and MST of 9 years, 43, 30, 25, and 19% of the prevalent screen-detected cancers in quartiles 1 to 4, respectively, were likely to be overdiagnosed cancers. Overdiagnosis decreased with increasing polygenic risk, with 56% decrease between the lowest and the highest polygenic risk quartiles.

Conclusion: Targeting screening to men at higher polygenic risk could reduce the problem of overdiagnosis and lead to a better benefit-to-harm balance in screening for prostate cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Algorithms
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Early Detection of Cancer* / methods
  • Early Detection of Cancer* / standards
  • Genetic Loci
  • Genetic Testing* / methods
  • Genetic Testing* / standards
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Overuse*
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Genetic
  • Models, Statistical
  • Neoplasm Grading
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Risk
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology


  • Biomarkers, Tumor