New publication: Evolution of European prostate cancer screening protocols and summary of ongoing trials

Meike J van Harten 1Monique J Roobol 2Pim J van Leeuwen 3Peter-Paul M Willemse 1Roderick C N van den Bergh 2 4


Population-based organised repeated screening for prostate cancer has been found to reduce disease-specific mortality, but with substantial overdiagnosis leading to overtreatment. Although only very few countries have implemented a screening programme on a national level, individual prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing is common. This opportunistic testing may have little favourable impact, while stressing the side-effects. The classic early detection protocols as were state-of-the-art in the 1990s applied a PSA and digital rectal examination threshold for sextant systematic prostate biopsy, with a fixed interval for re-testing, and limited indication for expectant management. In the three decades since these trials were started, different important improvements have become available in the cascade of screening, indication for biopsy, and treatment. The main developed aspects include: better identification of individuals at risk (using early/baseline PSA, family history, and/or genetic profile), individualised re-testing interval, optimised and individualised starting and stopping age, with gradual invitation at a fixed age rather than invitation of a wider range of age groups, risk stratification for biopsy (using PSA density, risk calculator, magnetic resonance imaging, serum and urine biomarkers, or combinations/sequences), targeted biopsy, transperineal biopsy approach, active surveillance for low-risk prostate cancer, and improved staging of disease. All these developments are suggested to decrease the side-effects of screening, while at least maintaining the advantages, but Level 1 evidence is lacking. The knowledge gained and new developments on early detection are being tested in different prospective screening trials throughout Europe. In addition, the European Union-funded PRostate cancer Awareness and Initiative for Screening in the European Union (PRAISE-U) project will compare and evaluate different screening pilots throughout Europe. Implementation and sustainability will also be addressed. Modern screening approaches may reduce the burden of the second most frequent cause of cancer-related death in European males, while minimising side-effects. Also, less efficacious opportunistic early detection may be indirectly reduced.

Keywords: Europe; developments; evolution; prostate cancer; protocols; screening; trials.



Mar 18, 2024