New publication: A Detailed Evaluation of the Effect of Prostate-specific Antigen–based Screening on Morbidity and Mortality of Prostate Cancer: 21-year Follow-up Results of the Rotterdam Section of the European Randomised Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer

Ivo I de Vos 1Annick Meertens 2Renée Hogenhout 2Sebastiaan Remmers 2Monique J Roobol 2ERSPC Rotterdam Study Group 2


Background Considering the long natural history of prostate cancer (PCa), long-term results of the European Randomised Study of Screening for PCa (ERSPC) are crucial.

Objective To provide an update on the effect of prostate-specific antigen (PSA)-based screening on PCa-specific mortality (PCSM), metastatic disease, and overdiagnosis in the Dutch arm of the ERSPC.

Design, setting, and participants Between 1993 and 2000, a total of 42 376 men, aged 55–74 yr, were randomised to a screening or a control arm. The main analysis was performed with men aged 55–69 yr (n = 34 831). Men in the screening arm were offered PSA-based screening with an interval of 4 yr.

Outcome measurements and statistical analysis Intention-to-screen analyses with Poisson regression were used to calculate rate ratios (RRs) of PCSM and metastatic PCa.

Results and limitations After a median follow-up of 21 yr, the RR of PCSM was 0.73 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.61–0.88) favouring screening. The numbers of men needed to invite (NNI) and needed to diagnose (NND) to prevent one PCa death were 246 and 14, respectively. For metastatic PCa, the RR was 0.67 (95% CI: 0.58–0.78) favouring screening. The NNI and NND to prevent one metastasis were 121 and 7, respectively. No statistical difference in PCSM (RR of 1.18 [95% CI: 0.87–1.62]) was observed in men aged ≥70 yr at the time of randomisation. In the screening arm, higher rates of PCSM and metastatic disease were observed in men who were screened only once and in a selected group of men above the screening age cut-off of 74 yr.

Conclusions The current analysis illustrates that with a follow-up of 21 yr, both absolute metastasis and mortality reduction continue to increase, resulting in a more favourable harm-benefit ratio than demonstrated previously. These data do not support starting screening at the age of 70–74 yr and show that repeated screening is essential.

Patient summary Prostate-specific antigen–based prostate cancer screening reduces metastasis and mortality. Longer follow-up shows fewer invitations and diagnoses needed to prevent one death, a positive note towards the issue of overdiagnosis.

Keywords Mortality – Neoplasm metastases – Prostatic neoplasms – Prostate-specific antigen – Screening

Apr 11, 2023