Since its discovery in the early 1980’s Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) has enabled urologists to detect prostate cancer in its early stages and allowed surgery and radiotherapy to be used to treat and cure prostate cancer before it spreads out of the prostate. It has however also presented those treating the disease with a problem as some men with early prostate cancer will not suffer with any ill effects from lower grade cancers during their lifetimes
Screening for prostate cancer
There has been a consistent approach from the government in the UK that there is not enough evidence to support a countrywide screening programme for the detection of prostate cancer. There are however large studies in Europe that show there is a significant reduction in the chances of dying of prostate cancer of over 20% in a large screened population compared to the men who were not tested.
Patient information - what to expect
PSA testing usually takes place on an individual patient basis by their GP. There are advantages and disadvantages to having the test. The benefits of early diagnosis can be offset by finding cancers that may require no treatment. Patients referred to Manchester Urology consultants with a finding of a raised PSA test are counselled and examined. The majority of patients can now expect a 3 Tesla MRI scan to further assess the prostate and determine whether a prostate biopsy is required. The standard of care in our group is for targeted trans-perineal biopsies done under a short general anaesthetic in those patients with an abnormality on their scan.