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Biopsy referral after PSA screening stays consistent over time
Date:12/12/2011

San Diego, CA -- After the US Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial found cancer in many men with low levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA), many debated which PSA level should lead to a biopsy recommendation. The US Preventive Screening Task Force (USPSTF) recently concluded, amid considerable controversy, that the evidence does not support recommending PSA screening for men under 75 years old at all, because the risks outweigh the benefits. Now, a study shows that physicians in a large Washington state health plan were being conservative in biopsy referral even before the USPSTF recommendation.

"Despite considerable recent debate about lowering the threshold for referring men to biopsy, we detected no change toward more aggressive biopsy referral practices in data spanning more than a decade for one integrated delivery system," says lead author Steven Zeliadt, PhD, of the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Seattle, Washington. "In fact, we observed an opposite pattern, with biopsies becoming slightly less common over the study period. This may reflect growing awareness of the problems of overdiagnosis and overtreatmentand the fact that many men die with prostate cancer but not from it."

Controversy is longstanding about what PSA threshold should be used to refer men for biopsy. The generally accepted standard is 4.0 ng/mL. However, some have urged lowering the level to 2.5 ng/mL, abandoning a specific cutoff altogether, or measuring the PSA velocity, or change over time, instead of absolute level. Dr. Zeliadt and his colleagues set out to determine if the actual biopsy referral practices in a community setting had changed in response to new recommendations, and to determine if PSA velocity is associated with follow-up biopsy.

The study examined PSA tests in members of Group Health, a health plan in Washington State and Northern Idaho, between 1997 and 2008. The final sample included 111,369 index tests amon
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Contact: Beverly Lytton
eAJPM@ucsd.edu
858-534-9340
Elsevier Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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