Prostate Cancer in Primary Care

Samuel W D Merriel, Garth Funston, Willie Hamilton

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

96 Citations (Scopus)
407 Downloads (Pure)


Prostate cancer is a common malignancy seen worldwide. The incidence has risen in recent decades, mainly fuelled by more widespread use of prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing, although prostate cancer mortality rates have remained relatively static over that time period. A man’s risk of prostate cancer is affected by his age and family history of the disease. Men with prostate cancer generally present symptomatically in primary care settings, although some diagnoses are made in asymptomatic men undergoing opportunistic PSA screening. Symptoms related to prostate cancer include lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS), such as nocturia and poor urinary stream, erectile dysfunction and visible haematuria. However, there is significant crossover in symptoms between prostate cancer and benign conditions affecting the prostate such as benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) and prostatitis. The evidence for the performance of PSA in asymptomatic and symptomatic men for the diagnosis of prostate cancer is equivocal. PSA is subject to false positive and false negative results, affecting its clinical utility as a standalone test. Clinicians need to counsel men about the risks and benefits of PSA testing to inform their decision-making. Digital rectal examination (DRE) by primary care clinicians has some evidence to show discrimination between benign and malignant conditions affecting the prostate.

Patients referred to secondary care for diagnostic testing for prostate cancer will typically undergo a transrectal or transperineal biopsy, where a number of samples are taken and sent for histological examination. These biopsies are invasive procedures with side effects and a risk of infection and sepsis, and alternative tests such as multiparametric magnetic resonance imagin (mpMRI) are currently being trialled for their accuracy and safety in diagnosing clinically significant prostate cancer.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1285–1294
Number of pages10
JournalAdvances in Therapy
Issue number9
Early online date10 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2018


  • Diagnosis
  • Prostate-specific antigen
  • Prostate cancer
  • Primary care
  • LUTS


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