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The UK NSC recommendation on Prostate cancer screening/PSA testing in men over the age of 50

Recommendation Systematic population screening programme not recommended
Last review completed December 2010
Next review due in 2013/14
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The UK NSC does not recommend universal screening of men for prostate cancer.


PSA (prostate specific antigen) testing can, however, be performed on request. Information is provided on the risks and benefits by the Prostate Cancer Risk Management Programme.


Find general information about population health screening.

More about Prostate Cancer

The prostate is a small gland in the pelvis that's found only in men. It's located between the penis and the bladder and surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the penis. The main function of the prostate is to help in the production of semen. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. It is responsible for 25% of newly diagnosed cases of cancer in England and Wales. The chances of developing prostate cancer increase as you get older. Most cases develop in men aged 65 or older.

» Read more about prostate cancer on NHS Choices

» Read more about prostate cancer on Cancerbackup

Why is screening not recommended by UK NSC?

The UK NSC does not recommend universal screening of men for prostate cancer because:

  • The test for prostate cancer is not effective enough and does not identify a large proportion of men who in fact have prostate cancer.
  • A positive test will lead in most cases to a biopsy, which often does not give a definitive answer and leads to anxiety and to further investigations.
  • Current research indicates for every 100,000 men at age 50 offered screening, 748 would end up being treated. The men accepting screening would have their lives extended on average by a day – while 274 men would be made impotent, 25 incontinent and 17 would have rectal problems as a result of the treatment.


The British Association for Cancer Research
British Association of Urological Nurses
The British Association of Urological Surgeons
Cancer Black Care
Cancer Research UK
The Prostate Cancer Charity
Prostate Cancer Support Federation
Prostate Scotland
Prostate UK
Royal College of Physicians
Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
Royal College of Surgeons

The stakeholder groups will be involved when the recommendation is next reviewed. If you think your organisation should be added, please contact us. More about the recommendation review process, including the role of stakeholders, can be found in the guide to Engaging with the UK NSC's recommendation review process.

Related documents

icon Option appraisal: screening for prostate cancer (update - March 2013) (PDF document, 1.13MB, 27/03/13)

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