Prostate Screening Every 4 Years Works
Study Backs Prostate Cancer Screening at 4-Year Intervals
Sept. 30, 2003 -- Screening men for prostate cancer every four
years is enough to catch the vast majority of cancers, a new European study
Researchers found very few aggressive prostate cancers slipped
through the cracks, and a four-year interval between prostate cancer screening
tests was adequate to detect most cancers.
When to Screen for Prostate Cancer
The study, published in the Oct. 1 issue of the Journal of
the National Cancer Institute, looked at the number of cancers detected
between screening visits among the 17,226 men ages 55 to 74 enrolled in the
European Randomized Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer (ERSPC).
Researchers say that the occurrence of interval cancers is used
to determine whether the screening tests are sensitive enough and screening
interval is appropriate.
About half of the men were randomly assigned to a screening
group that received a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, a digital rectal
exam, and a rectal ultrasound exam every four years. The other men received no
prostate cancer screening.
A total of 412 prostate cancers were diagnosed in men after the
first round of screening, and during the following four years 18 additional
cancers were detected.
In contrast, 135 cancers were detected during the same
follow-up period among those who did not receive prostate cancer screening.
Researcher Ingrid W. van der Crujisen-Koeter, MD, of Erasmus
MC, University Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and colleagues say the
low number of prostate cancers detected between screenings shows that the
screening procedures were about 86% sensitive and the schedule was
In addition, the cancers that were detected during the interval
among the screening group were at earlier stages and had not spread, which
suggests that "very few, if any aggressive prostate cancers escape
screening with the procedure used within the ERSPC."