Press release

New improved prostate pack for GPs

Public Health England (PHE) has today (29 March 2016) issued a new improved prostate cancer pack for GPs.

The new improved prostate cancer pack contains revised information that GPs and other healthcare professionals can use to discuss the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test for prostate cancer with well men.

The PSA test is not accurate enough to serve as the basis of a national screening programme. The UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC) will not recommend screening until there is clear evidence that it offers more benefit than harm to the population as a whole.

However, there are a great number of otherwise well men who are concerned about prostate cancer.

This updated information will help guide well men and their GPs when deciding whether to have a PSA test. It does not apply to men at high risk or with symptoms of any age

Men aged 50 and over can book an appointment with their GP to discuss having the PSA test.

The updated and redesigned Prostate Cancer Risk Management Programme (PCRMP) information will help GPs give clear and balanced guidance to asymptomatic men on the potential benefits and risks of having the test.

The PSA test, which can be done at a GP surgery, measures the level of PSA in the blood and is the most common initial test for men who are worried about prostate cancer.

As with all tests there are risks. A raised PSA level can mean a man has prostate cancer, although in some cases it may miss identifying a cancer risk.

Additionally, it may falsely identify a possible risk of prostate cancer or it may find a slow growing cancer that may never cause symptoms or shorten life. This may mean some men opting to have unnecessary treatments with side effects that can affect daily life.

The revised PCRMP materials include the latest evidence on which the UK NSC based its recommendation. This includes:

  • full evidence document
  • summary information sheet for GPs
  • summary information sheet for men aged 50 and over

Dr Anne Mackie, Public Health England’s Director of Screening, said:

The decision about whether a man takes a PSA test is a complex one and has to be thought through carefully.

There are potential harms as well as benefits in taking the test and we know that many men really appreciate the opportunity to discuss the test with their GP.

Our new information pack will make it easier for GPs to have this conversation with their patients, and assist men in making a decision that is right for them.

The new information leaflets for GPs and other healthcare professionals are available on GOV.UK.

PHE screening press office