News Update – 15 March 2012

Latest findings confirm increased mortality benefit from prostate cancer testing

The European Randomized Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer has published its 11-year follow-up results (New England Journal of Medicine, March 15 2012). Once again, they demonstrate that screening does significantly reduce death from prostate cancer. The latest study confirms that a man who undergoes PSA testing will have his risk of dying from prostate cancer reduced by 29%.

Extended follow up will assess full impact of screening

By increasing follow-up to an average of 11 years, the ERSPC has shown that 31% fewer men than previously indicated would need to be diagnosed with cancer to save one life. So far, only about 30% of all men in the study have died.

If a larger reduction of prostate cancer mortality is seen by further extending the study beyond the current average of 11 years, the ERSPC can determine with greater certainty whether the benefit of screening outweighs the disadvantages.

ERSPC is the world’s largest randomized prostate cancer screening study. It was designed to investigate whether early detection and treatment of prostate cancer might reduce disease-specific mortality and also help to identify men at risk. From 1992, the ERSPC study randomized 162,000 men, aged 55 to 69, across Europe to either a screening arm or a control group. Those screened were given a blood test to detect PSA levels: if it was 3.0ng/ml or more, they were offered a biopsy. Screening took place on average every four years. Mean follow-up was 11 years. more»

This study is fundamentally different from the US-based Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial where at least 44% of participants in the control arm were already PSA-tested prior to being randomized into the study. The PLCO study has been unable to demonstrate any difference in prostate cancer mortality between the two arms of the study.

Original participating countries and details on specific protocols within each country: Belgium, Finland, France, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.


To screen or not to screen?

Prof Chris Bangma sets this challenge for health authorities in response to the ERSPC study into the benefits of population-based screening for prostate cancer.

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