Dr. Quoc-Dien Trinh is a urologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH).
Recent research led by Brigham and Women’s Hospital suggests that the likelihood of a patient getting prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing for the early detection of prostate cancer depends on the type of physician he sees.
In October 2011, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued a recommendation against the use of PSA testing for prostate cancer screening for all men. In its assessment, the task force concluded that, overall, the harms of PSA testing outweigh its benefits. The study authors, however, hypothesized that adoption of the USPSTF recommendation would vary according to a physician’s specialty.
The researchers examined PSA testing use among primary care physicians (PCPs) and urologists in the year immediately before the recommendation was issued and the year immediately afterward. To focus on preventive care visits, men previously diagnosed with prostate cancer, an elevated PSA level, or other prostate conditions were excluded from the study.
The study found that PSA testing for men aged 50-74 years decreased significantly from 36.5 percent in 2010 to 16.4 percent in 2012 among PCPs. However, during those same years, such testing among urologists only decreased from 38.7 percent to 34.5 percent.