Letters

Demand for prostate specific antigen testing in primary care

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.324.7336.547 (Published 02 March 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:547

Screening through back passage as well as back door?

  1. Keith Hopcroft (keithhopcroft@supanet.com), general practitioner
  1. Laindon Health Centre, Laindon, Basildon, Essex SS15 5TR
  2. Directorate of Health Policy and Public Health, North Derbyshire Health Authority, Scarsdale, Chesterfield S41 7PF

    EDITOR—Donovan et al highlight the fact that current policy for testing amounts of prostate specific antigen (PSA) amounts to screening by the back door.1 They do, however, overlook another insidious form of screening by PSA. Men who present with the well known prostatic type symptoms in primary care typically receive PSA testing as part of their work up, either from their general practitioner or after referral. But these symptoms are not good markers for prostate cancer—in fact, men with obstructive urinary symptoms are no more likely than men without symptoms to have prostate cancer. In other words, in terms of prostate cancer, these men are asymptomatic.

    To perform a PSA test in these men therefore amounts to screening, which seems to be overlooked by …

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