General practitioner perception of prostate-specific antigen testing has improved, but more awareness of prostate cancer risk in younger patients is still awaited

David R. Thurtle*, Emma M. Gordon, Robert D. Brierly, Ciaran J. Conway, John McLoughlin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
227 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Background: In 2006, a county-wide survey of general practitioners (GPs) in the United Kingdom (UK) identified a reluctance to refer younger men with abnormal prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels. Younger men have the most to gain from early-detection of prostate cancer (PCa), which remains a national government priority in the UK and around the world. We sought to assess changes in perception of abnormal PSA-values amongst UK GPs over the past 10 years. Materials and methods: A total of 500 self-administered paper questionnaires were distributed to individually named GPs. One hundred and forty two responded (28.4%), representing a patient population of ∼600,000. A series of visual analogue questions assessed referral thresholds and understanding of risk factors related to the development of PCa. Results: GPs with a median of 23-years experience responded. Although mean PSA threshold for referral to urology did fall between 2006 and 2016 in both the 45-year (5.42 ng/mL vs. 4.61 ng/mL P = 0.0003) and 55-year (5.81 ng/mL vs. 5.30 ng/mL P = 0.0164) age groups, the median referral values were unchanged. Significantly, referral thresholds quoted for younger men (<65 years) were considerably higher than recommended UK maximum PSA-levels. Using case-based scenarios, practitioners appeared more likely to refer older men with abnormal PSA values, with GPs reporting an average 56.2% likelihood of referring an asymptomatic 55-year-old with elevated age-adjusted PSA of 4.6 ng/mL. A total of 95.1% recognised a family history of PCa to be a potential risk factor but other at-risk categories were not so clearly understood. Conclusion: Awareness of abnormal PSA values in UK primary care is improving, but continues to lag behind the evidence. Strategies to disseminate knowledge of maximum PSA-values to GPs should focus especially on those for younger patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-65
Number of pages5
JournalProstate International
Volume6
Issue number2
Early online date14 Oct 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018

Keywords

  • Early diagnosis
  • General practice
  • Prostate cancer
  • Prostate specific antigen

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