Medline: 10528023

The fulltext Journal of the National Cancer Institute 91(20): 1733-1737, 1999. is available online for subscribers.

Prostate-specific antigen testing of older men.

Carter HB, Landis PK, Metter EJ, et al.


Elevated serum prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels are predictive of a future diagnosis of prostate cancer. To test the hypothesis that older men with low PSA levels may require less intensive PSA testing because of a reduced prostate cancer detection rate, we evaluated the association between age, baseline PSA level, and prostate cancer detection.

We conducted a prospective cohort study among participants in a study of aging who had serial PSA measurements taken from age 60 or 65 years until they either were diagnosed with prostate cancer (cancer case subjects) or reached the age of 75 years (subjects without prostate cancer). The time of cancer detection among cancer case subjects was defined as the measurement date on which a PSA level above 4.0 ng/mL was detected (i.e., PSA conversion). Cancer case subjects and subjects without prostate cancer were analyzed according to baseline PSA level and age.

All cancer case subjects in the 60-year-old cohort had baseline PSA levels above 0.5 ng/mL, and 14 of 15 cancer cases that would have been detected by a PSA conversion among the 65-year-old cohort were associated with baseline PSA levels of 1.1 ng/mL or more. If PSA testing were discontinued in men aged 65 years with PSA levels of 0.5 ng/mL or less, 100% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 78%-100%) of the cancers would still be detected by age 75 years; if PSA testing were discontinued in men aged 65 years who had PSA levels of 1.0 ng/mL or less, 94% (95% CI = 70%-100%) of the cancers would still be detected by age 75 years.

These data suggest that a decrease in the intensity of screening among older men with low PSA values may not lead to an increase in undetected prostate cancer.

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Rheinische Friedrich- Wilhelms- Universität Bonn
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Dr. G. Quade