Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 18, Issue 9, pp 931–937 | Cite as

Prostate cancer mortality in relation to screening by prostate-specific antigen testing and digital rectal examination: a population-based study in middle-aged men

  • Ilir Agalliu
  • Noel S. Weiss
  • Daniel W. Lin
  • Janet L. StanfordEmail author
Original Paper



Although prostate cancer screening by measurement of serum prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and digital rectal examination (DRE) is common in clinical practice, the impact of such screening on prostate cancer-specific mortality remains uncertain.


Data from a population-based case–control study in King County, Washington, among men aged 50–64 years (706 cases, 645 controls) were used to examine the relationships between PSA and DRE screening and fatal prostate cancer and other-cause mortality. Incident cases were diagnosed in 1993–1996, identified via the Seattle-Puget Sound SEER cancer registry and followed for vital status through 1 June 2007. Controls were ascertained by random digit dialing and frequency age-matched to cases. The screening variable used in this analysis was self-reported receipt of one or more PSA and/or DRE tests performed as part of a routine checkup in the five-year period before diagnosis or reference date.


A smaller proportion of men with fatal prostate cancer had one or more PSA and/or DRE screening tests compared to controls, resulting in an adjusted odds ratios (OR) of 0.38 (95% CI 0.19–0.77). There was no association, however, between PSA and/or DRE screening and other-cause mortality (OR = 1.02; 95% CI 0.51–2.02).


Results of this study suggest a reduction in prostate cancer-specific mortality associated with PSA and/or DRE screening in middle-aged men. Findings should be interpreted cautiously, however, as results are based on observational data. Further, the study was not able to separate the relative efficacy of PSA versus DRE screening.


Prostate cancer screening Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test Digital rectal examination Prostate cancer-specific mortality 



We thank all men who participated in this study for their time, effort and co-operation. We thank Dr. Ruth Etzioni for helpful suggestions and comments on the manuscript. Supported by NIH grants RO1-CA56678 and P50-CA97186, NIH Contract N01-CN-05230 from the National Cancer Institute, and additional support was provided by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ilir Agalliu
    • 1
  • Noel S. Weiss
    • 1
    • 2
  • Daniel W. Lin
    • 1
    • 3
  • Janet L. Stanford
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Division of Public Health SciencesFred Hutchinson Cancer Research CenterSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health and Community MedicineUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  3. 3.Department of UrologyUniversity of Washington Medical CenterSeattleUSA

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