Testing for prostate cancer using the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test
The prostate specific antigen (PSA) test is a blood test commonly used to detect potential prostate cancer.
Advice on use of the PSA test to detect prostate cancer can be conflicting and confusing. On one hand, prostate cancer may be detected at an early stage where treatment may be simpler and more effective. On the other hand, the potential harms of a false test result, overdiagnosis, or overtreatment may outweigh any benefit.
NHMRC has undertaken an evaluation of the evidence on whether PSA testing of asymptomatic men, with or without digital rectal examination, reduces mortality and morbidity; and the harms and other benefits of PSA testing and of subsequent follow-up investigations and treatment. The final Evidence Evaluation Report and accompanying Technical Report are available on the NHMRC publications webpage.
Using the evidence identified above, NHMRC has drafted an information document for health practitioners titled PSA Testing for Prostate Cancer in Asymptomatic Men: Information for Health Practitioners (the PSA Information Document). By providing balanced information on both the potential benefits and harms of PSA testing in asymptomatic men, the document aims to assist health practitioners in their discussions with men and their families.
The PSA Information Document underwent a 30 day public consultation period, for which submissions closed on 20 August 2013.
NHMRC plans to release the final PSA Information Document in early 2014.
- View the NHMRC Media Release: NHMRC welcomes feedback on prostate cancer resource for health practitioners - 22 July 2013
- View the NHMRC Media Release: Should I be tested for prostate cancer? - 31 August, 2012
PSA Testing Expert Advisory Group
An Expert Advisory Group has been established to advise on the development of both the Evidence Evaluation Report and the draft information document.
The PSA Testing Expert Advisory Group comprises experts across Australia. The disciplines represented include general practice, medical oncology, urology, pathology, public health, epidemiology, Aboriginal and rural health, and evidence-based practice. Consumers are also represented.
Related Work on PSA Testing
Parallel to NHMRC’s work on PSA testing, the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) and Cancer Council Australia (CCA) will be developing a clinical practice guideline. These guidelines will supplement NHMRC’s work by providing further clinical guidance for doctors consulting with men about having a PSA test. PCFA-CCA’s will be developed using the NHMRC procedures and requirements to meet the 2011 NHMRC standard for clinical practice guidelines (the 2011 NHMRC Standard). The Guidelines are due to be finalised in late 2014.