No change toward more aggressive biopsy follow-up of PSA tests, finds study

May 31, 2017

The researchers found that of tests with a PSA value greater than 4.0 ng/mL, 28% led to a biopsy within 12 months, and 38.6% were followed up by a urologist but did not result in a biopsy. Biopsies were slightly more common in the early years of the study, but biopsy rates did not differ over time for men with mild to moderate PSA levels. The threshold used for biopsy referral appeared not to change over time.

PSA velocity was strongly associated with biopsy. Among men whose PSA tests exceeded 4.0 ng/mL, those with a rapidly rising velocity were more likely to undergo biopsy. This rate was also consistent across the years of the study. "PSA velocity has been promoted for many years as having value for predicting death from prostate cancer, although several recent studies and evidence from screening trials have demonstrated that in practice, velocity adds little value. This is not surprising given that PSA is a continuous marker, and a rapid rise may be likely to trigger follow-up, thus reducing rates of death from prostate cancer," notes Dr. Zeliadt.

"Even small changes in the PSA threshold can substantially alter the potential harms and benefits of screening. However, providers have limited evidence to help them discuss this with patients," concludes Dr. Zeliadt, who is also affiliated with Group Health Research Institute and the University of Washington. "This study highlights the importance of acknowledging that how aggressively patients are referred for biopsy is an important component of the PSA screening discussion."

Source: Elsevier Health Sciences