Repeating the measurement of prostate-specific antigen in symptomatic men can avoid unnecessary prostatic biopsy


T. O’Brien, Consultant Urologist, Department of Urology, Guy's Hospital, St. Thomas Street, London SE1 9RT, UK.
e-mail: Tim.O'



To report the 2-year clinical and biochemical follow-up of symptomatic men who had a high prostate-specific-antigen (PSA) level, for whom our policy has been to avoid biopsy in those with a normal repeat PSA, as minimizing negative prostate biopsies is an important goal in managing men with a high PSA, where the decision for biopsy based on one high value may be inappropriate.


In all, 101 men (median age 72 years, range 47–85) referred to a urology department over 1 year with a PSA level above the age-specific reference range (but < 50 ng/mL) had a repeat PSA measurement. Those with a normal PSA and a normal digital rectal examination (DRE) were not biopsied. Their follow-up included a symptom review, DRE and PSA measurements.


Of the 101 men, 67% presented with LUTS, 11% with symptoms of urinary infection, 8% with haematuria and 9% for screening. In 35 patients the repeat PSA level was normal; in three of these 35 prostate cancer was diagnosed after biopsy because of an abnormal DRE, three were lost to follow-up and one died from unrelated causes. Thus 28 patients were available for review at 2 years. In 23 (82%) the PSA remained within the normal range. In 66 of the 101 men the repeat PSA was abnormal. Cancer was diagnosed in 28 and the remaining 36 with no cancer were managed by PSA review; 30 were reviewed at 2 years and in half of them the PSA level returned to normal.


In symptomatic men referred with a raised PSA level and who have a normal DRE and normal repeat PSA, prostatic biopsy can be safely avoided.