Structured Population-based Prostate-specific Antigen Screening for Prostate Cancer: The European Association of Urology Position in 2019

Eur Urol. 2019 Aug;76(2):142-150. doi: 10.1016/j.eururo.2019.04.033. Epub 2019 May 12.


Prostate cancer (PCa) is one of the first three causes of cancer mortality in Europe. Screening in asymptomatic men (aged 55-69yr) using prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is associated with a migration toward lower staged disease and a reduction in cancer-specific mortality. By 20yr after testing, around 100 men need to be screened to prevent one PCa death. While this ratio is smaller than for breast and colon cancer, the long natural history of PCa means many men die from other causes. As such, the nonselective use of PSA testing and radical treatments can lead to overdiagnosis and overtreatment. The European Association of Urology (EAU) supports measures to encourage appropriate PCa detection through PSA testing, while reducing overdiagnosis and overtreatment. These goals may be achieved using personalized risk-stratified approaches. For diagnosis, the greatest benefit from early detection is likely to come in men assessed using baseline PSA levels at the age of 45yr to individualize screening intervals. Multiparametric magnetic resonance imaging as well as risk calculators based on family history, ethnicity, digital rectal examination, and prostate volume should be considered to triage the need for biopsy, thus reducing the risk of overdiagnosis. For treatment, the EAU advocates balancing patient's life expectancy and cancer's mortality risk when deciding an approach. Active surveillance is encouraged in well-informed patients with low-risk and some intermediate-risk cancers, as it decreases the risks of overtreatment without compromising oncological outcomes. Conversely, the EAU advocates radical treatment in suitable men with more aggressive PCa. Multimodal treatment should be considered in locally advanced or high-grade cancers. PATIENT SUMMARY: Implementation of prostate-specific antigen (PSA)-based screening should be considered at a population level. Men at risk of prostate cancer should have a baseline PSA blood test (eg, at 45yr). The level of this test, combined with family history, ethnicity, and other factors, can be used to determine subsequent follow-up. Magnetic resonance imaging scans and novel biomarkers should be used to determine which men need biopsy and how any cancers should be treated.

Keywords: Cancer-specific mortality; Prostate Cancer; Prostate-specific antigen; Screening; Stage migration.