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Abstract

This study investigates the prevalence and determinants of prostate cancer screening in the South Australian community. An interview-based survey of a probability sample of the SA population (N=3,016) in 1995 addressed previous PSA testing, beliefs about vulnerability to prostate cancer and efficacy of screening, presence of uncomplicated lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) and sociodemographic variables. Of 736 men, 40 years and over with no history of prostate cancer, 24.7% (182/736) reported ever having had a test and 53.9% (397) reported an intention to test; 74% (547) agreed that prostate cancer could be cured if detected early, while only 14.9% (109) believed they were unlikely to suffer from prostate cancer. In a logistic regression model, visit to a doctor for (but not presence of) LUTS was a strong, independent predictor of participation in PSA testing (OR 9.0, 95% Cl 5.0, 16.0). Beliefs, occupation and education were not. In a similar model examining intention to test, belief in vulnerability to prostate cancer was the strongest predictor (OR 3.32, 95% Cl 1.9, 5.9), followed by doctor visit for urinary symptoms. These data are consistent with widespread PSA testing and with seeking treatment for LUTS being a major determinant of previous testing. NHMRC Clinical Guidelines for LUTS recommend against PSA testing for investigation of uncomplicated LUTS. Implementation of those guidelines may therefore have a significant effect on PSA testing rates. Belief in personal vulnerability to prostate cancer remains a significant component of reported future testing, suggesting a focus for community education.