This document explains the Prostate Cancer Risk Management Programme (PCRMP), PSA testing and evidence against a national screening programme.
The NHS Prostate Cancer Risk Management Programme (PCRMP) provides GPs and primary care professionals with information to counsel asymptomatic men aged 50 and over who ask about prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing for prostate cancer.
The PCRMP, revised and updated in March 2016, includes:
NHS Choices also has further information that men may find helpful.
The PSA test measures the level of PSA in a man’s blood. It is the most common initial test for men who are worried about prostate cancer.
The PSA test is not accurate enough to meet the requirements of a national screening programme. A raised PSA level can mean a man has prostate cancer but the PSA test can also miss cancer.
A raised PSA level can:
find prostate cancer at an early stage when treatment could provide a cure or extend life
suggest some men have prostate cancer when they don’t
find a slow growing cancer that may never cause symptoms or shorten life, resulting in unnecessary treatments with side effects that can affect daily life
Any asymptomatic man aged 50 and over can make an appointment with their GP to discuss having the PSA test. GPs should not proactively raise the issue with asymptomatic men.
The PCRMP provides good quality evidence-based information to help guide primary health care professionals in these discussions. Men aged 50 and over who decide to have a PSA test based on this balanced information can do so for free on the NHS.
The revised PCRMP materials include the latest evidence on which the UK National Screening Committee based its recommendation against a screening programme.
Prostate Cancer UK (PCUK) has convened an independent panel of clinical experts across a broad range of disciplines to develop consensus statements on aspects of PSA testing where robust evidence is lacking. These consensus statements may support primary care but should not undermine the guidance set out by the PCRMP.
The consensus statements are also available to patients and the public.