Increasing the Time Between Prostate Cancer Screenings May Improve Outcomes

A new study finds significant benefits to lengthening the amount of time between prostate cancer screenings for men. The study appeared in JNCI.

Researchers investigated benefits and harms of screening strategies associated with lengthening the screening interval when PSA is below 1.0 ng/mL at ages 45 or 50 or discontinuing screening when PSA is below 1.0 ng/mL at age 60. Using statistical modeling techniques, the researchers predicted the harms (measured in tests and overdiagnoses) and benefits (measured in lives saved and life-years gained) of PSA-stratified screening strategies versus the traditionally recommended screening for men between 45 and 69 every other year.

The models they developed projected that screening 10,000 men ages 45 to 69 every other year would require more than 110,000 screens and result in up to 348 over-diagnoses. They observed that lengthening the screening interval from two to eight years would result in a decrease of over-diagnosis by 5- 24%, and only 3.1 to 3.8% fewer lives saved.

Additionally, the models predicted that discontinuing screening at age 60 for everyone would greatly reduce overdiagnoses (by 79-82%) but would save substantially fewer lives compared to screening until age 69.

Lead author Eveline Heijnsdijk, PhD said in a press release that: “This study shows the power of comparative modeling: by using two models with different underlying assumptions, we can identify uncertainty around the outcomes.”