Screening for prostate cancer: protocol for updating multiple systematic reviews to inform a Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care guideline update

Syst Rev. 2022 Oct 26;11(1):230. doi: 10.1186/s13643-022-02099-9.


Purpose: To inform updated recommendations by the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care on screening for prostate cancer in adults aged 18 years and older in primary care. This protocol outlines the planned scope and methods for a series of systematic reviews.

Methods: Updates of two systematic reviews and a de novo review will be conducted to synthesize the evidence on the benefits and harms of screening for prostate cancer with a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and/or digital rectal examination (DRE) (with or without additional information) and patient values and preferences. Outcomes for the benefits of screening include reduced prostate cancer mortality, all-cause mortality, and incidence of metastatic prostate cancer. Outcomes for the harms of screening include false-positive screening tests, overdiagnosis, complications due to biopsy, and complications of treatment including incontinence (urinary or bowel), and erectile dysfunction. The quality of life or functioning (overall and disease-specific) and psychological effects outcomes are considered as a possible benefit or harm. Outcomes for the values and preferences review include quantitative or qualitative information regarding the choice to screen or intention to undergo screening. For the reviews on benefits or harms, we will search for randomized controlled trials, quasi-randomized, and controlled studies in MEDLINE, Embase, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials. For the review on values and preferences, we will search for experimental or observational studies in MEDLINE, Embase, and PsycInfo. For all reviews, we will also search websites of relevant organizations, gray literature, and reference lists of included studies. Title and abstract screening, full-text review, data extraction, and risk of bias assessments will be completed independently by pairs of reviewers with any disagreements resolved by consensus or by consulting with a third reviewer. The GRADE (Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation) approach will be used to assess the certainty of the evidence for each outcome.

Discussion: The series of systematic reviews will be used by the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care to update their 2014 guideline on screening for prostate cancer in adults aged 18 years and older. Systematic review registration This review has been registered with PROSPERO (CRD42022314407) and is available on the Open Science Framework (

Keywords: Adults; Guideline; Primary care; Prostate cancer; Prostate-specific antigen; Screening; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Canada
  • Early Detection of Cancer / methods
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Prostatic Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Quality of Life
  • Review Literature as Topic
  • Systematic Reviews as Topic


  • Prostate-Specific Antigen