BRIEF REPORT: Physicians and Their Personal Prostate Cancer-screening Practices with Prostate-specific Antigen

A National Survey


  • The authors have no conflicts of interest to report.This study was presented at the European Society of Medical Decision Making. Erasmus MC Universitaire Medisch Centrum Rotterdam, Rotterdam, the Netherlands on June 7, 2004 and at the Society of General Internal Medicine, Chicago, IL on May 14, 2004.

Address correspondence and requests for reprints to Dr. Chan: Biomedical Ethics, Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, The University of Texas-Houston Medical School, 6431 Fannin, 1.122 MSB, Houston, TX 77030 (e-mail:


BACKGROUND: There is inconclusive evidence that prostate cancer screening with prostate-specific antigen (PSA) reduces mortality. Although PSA testing is widespread, it is unknown how many physicians have taken the PSA test themselves.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the prevalence of PSA testing among physicians.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey.

SUBJECTS: A nationwide stratified random sample of urologists (response rate 61%, n=247), Internists (response rate 51%, n=273), and family physicians (response rate 64%, n=249) were surveyed by mail in 2000. After excluding female respondents and men who either reported a positive history of prostate cancer or did not respond to that query, there were 146 urologists, 96 Internists, and 118 family physicians.

MEASUREMENTS: Whether physicians had undergone prostate cancer screening with PSA.

RESULTS: Eighty-seven percent (155/178) of male physicians aged, 50 and older and 21% (31/150) of white male physicians under age 50 reported having had a PSA test. More urologists than nonurologists in both age groups reported having had a screening PSA test.

CONCLUSION: Most physicians aged 50 and older report undergoing PSA testing. This may reflect a belief in its efficacy and contribute to its widespread use.