Publication Abstract

Authors: Hoffman RM, Denberg T, Hunt WC, Hamilton AS

Title: Prostate cancer testing following a negative prostate biopsy: over testing the elderly.

Journal: J Gen Intern Med 22(8):1139-43

Date: 2007 Aug

Abstract: BACKGROUND: Screening elderly men for prostate cancer is not recommended because definitive treatments are unlikely to extend life expectancy. OBJECTIVE: Describe clinical outcomes after a negative prostate biopsy in a population-based cohort of men ages 65 and older. DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study. PARTICIPANTS: 9,410 Medicare-eligible men who underwent a prostate biopsy in Los Angeles or New Mexico in 1992. MEASUREMENTS: We used Medicare and SEER databases to identify a cohort with an initial negative biopsy (n = 7,119) and to ascertain survival, subsequent PSA testing, prostate biopsies, and prostate cancer detection and treatment through 1997. RESULTS: The overall 5-year survival was 79.4% (95% CI 78.4-80.3), but only 74.6% (72.4-76.7) for men ages 75-79 at the time of the initial negative biopsy and 55.0% (51.9-57.9) for men ages 80+. During a median 4.5 years follow-up, a cumulative 75.0% (73.9-76.1) of the cohort underwent PSA testing. Among men ages 75-79 and 80+, the cumulative proportions that underwent PSA testing were 75.4% (73.0-77.8) and 74.3% (71.1-77.5), respectively. Additionally, 29.1% (26.7-31.6) of men ages 75-79 and 20.1% (17.6-23.1) of men ages 80+ underwent repeat prostate biopsy, and 10.9% (9.4-12.7) and 8.3% (6.6-10.4), respectively, were diagnosed with cancer. Among men ages 75+ with localized cancers, approximately 34% received definitive treatment. CONCLUSIONS: High proportions of men ages 75+ underwent PSA testing and repeat prostate biopsies after an initial negative prostate biopsy. Given the known harms and uncertain benefits for finding and treating localized cancer in elderly men, most continued PSA testing after a negative biopsy is potentially inappropriate.