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.
The current situation regarding guidance on prostate cancer testing and treatment in Australia is far from ideal. Men receive inconsistent messages from different organisations and doctors.
Using the PSA test to detect prostate cancer is controversial. Drawing on the most up to date evidence, NHMRC will develop an information document on PSA testing in asymptomatic men. This document will assist doctors to provide men and their families with evidence-based information on the potential harms and benefits of testing and of any follow up investigations and treatments. Men can then make an informed decision about whether to be tested for prostate cancer.
NHMRC’s is currently undertaking 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.
An Expert Advisory Group has been established and next meets in January 2013 to consider and provide comment on the evaluation of the evidence and advise on the development of a PSA testing information document.
NHMRC plans to release its evaluation of the evidence on PSA testing in April 2013 and the information document in late 2013.
PSA Testing Expert Advisory Group
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 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).