Medline: 9934717

Cancer Causes and Control 9(5): 519-527, 1998.

The role of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing patterns in the recent prostate cancer incidence decline in the United States.

Legler JM, Feuer EJ, Potosky AL, et al.


Trends in first-time and later PSA procedure rates are ascertained using longitudinal data from a population-based cohort. These trends are compared to trends in prostate cancer incidence to determine the role of PSA in the recent decline in prostate cancer incidence.

Medicare data were linked with tumor registry data from the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program. A 5 percent random sample (n = 39985) of Medicare beneficiaries from the SEER areas without a previous diagnosis of prostate cancer as of January 1, 1988 was followed through 1994. Trends in first-time PSA use were distinguished from those of second or later for men without diagnosed prostate cancer.

Trends in the rate of first-time PSA procedures track closely with trends in prostate cancer incidence rates, increasing until 1992 and decreasing thereafter. Similar patterns were observed by race and age group. Geographic variability in the dissemination of PSA screening was observed, yet the association between testing and incidence remained. Men in the cohort had a 4.7 percent chance of being diagnosed within three months of an initial PSA test, with the percentage falling for subsequent tests.

It is informative to distinguish first from later tests when assessing the effect of the diffusion of a test in a population. Taking this approach was useful in illuminating the role of PSA testing in a reversal of a long-term increase in prostate cancer incidence rates.

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Dr. G. Quade