Potentially advanced malignancies detected by screening for prostate carcinoma after an interval of 4 years




At the Rotterdam branch of the European Randomized Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer, a cohort of 19,970 men ages 55–75 years is screened at an interval of 4 years. Screening includes systematic sextant needle biopsy for men with elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels and/or positive findings on digital rectal examination or transrectal ultrasound. Detection during the second screening round of a large number of high-grade (Gleason Grade 4 or 5) malignancies and/or a large number of malignancies in general could be considered the result of a failure to identify these malignancies at an early stage, during prevalence screening.


Men diagnosed during the second screening round with potentially advanced carcinoma (PAC), characterized by a biopsy Gleason score of 7 (4 + 3, or 3 + 4 with > 30% malignant involvement) or a biopsy Gleason score of 8–10, were identified. Clinical data, including PSA values on prevalence screening, biopsy history, clinical stage, and follow-up data, were retrieved for these patients. Tumor features were further analyzed in radical prostatectomy specimens.


During the second screening round, 503 malignancies, including 30 (6.0%) with features of PAC on diagnostic biopsy, were detected in 11,210 patients. Curative treatment was offered to 26 patients. Prostatectomy demonstrated the presence of organ-confined disease in 11 of 12 specimens, and tumor volume ranged from 0.11–7.93 cm3 (median, 1.05 cm3). PSA failure was noted in 6 of 22 patients who were offered curative therapy.


PAC is a rare finding in the second round of screening after a 4-year interval, and a substantial proportion of PAC cases detected in the second screening round represent organ-confined disease. The findings of the current study suggest that the screening protocol used is sufficiently effective for detecting > 95% of malignancies before they develop features that would make them incurable. Cancer 2004;100:968–75. © 2004 American Cancer Society.