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Volume 13, Issue 2 (March 2011) 13, 219–224; 10.1038/aja.2010.180

PSA-based prostate cancer screening: the role of active surveillance and informed and shared decision making

Lionne DF Venderbos and Monique J Roobol

Department of Urology, Erasmus MC, University Medical Centre,, PO Box 2040, 3000 CA Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Correspondence: LDF Venderbos MSc, (l.venderbos@erasmusmc.nl)

Received 20 December 2010; Accepted 5 January 2011; Published online 7 February 2011


Since the first publication describing the identification of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in the 1960s, much progress has been made. The PSA test changed from being initially a monitoring tool to being also used as a diagnostic tool. Over time, the test has been heavily debated due to its lack of sensitivity and specificity. However, up to now the PSA test is still the only biomarker for the detection and monitoring of prostate cancer. PSA-based screening for prostate cancer is associated with a high proportion of unnecessary testing and overdiagnosis with subsequent overtreatment. In the early years of screening for prostate cancer, high rates of uptake were very important. However, over time the opinion on PSA-based screening has shifted towards the notion of informed choice. Nowadays, it is thought to be unethical to screen men without them being aware of the pros and cons of PSA testing, as well as the fact that an informed choice is related to better patient outcomes. Now, as the results of three major screening studies have been presented and the downsides of screening are becoming better understood, informed choice is becoming more relevant.

Keywords: active surveillance; informed decision making; PSA testing; shared decision making

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