Mr Ben Challacombe, Consultant Urological Surgeon
While the jury is still out on the need for entire population-based screening, researchers at The Royal Marsden and The Institute of Cancer Research have found that targetted screening in men with a genetic predisposition to prostate cancer may save lives.
Men aged between 40 and 69 from families with variations in genes known as BRCA1 and BRCA2 (genes previously associated with breast cancer in women) that increase prostate cancer risk, were tested with PSA blood samples.
In this study 205 men with confirmed BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations, and 95 who had tested negative for the mutations, were all offered annual PSA blood testing. 24 men who had raised PSA levels were given a follow-up biopsy.
Many more prostate cancers were found in men with the genetic mutation (9) than in men without it (2), and most of these were potentially lethal cancers.
This study shows the potential value of PSA screening in BRCA mutation carriers and it continues to be advised in these men. It is likely that targetted screening in these and other at risk groups will be effective in reducing deaths from prostate cancer.