New PSA Screening Guideline from the American Urological Association

June 6, 2013

New PSA Screening Guideline from the American Urological Association

  1. Allan S. Brett, MDAU031

The target range for “routine” prostate-specific antigen screening has been narrowed to ages 55 to 69.

  1. Allan S. Brett, MDAU031

The American Urological Association (AUA) has published a new guideline on prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening. The guideline has five summary recommendations:

  • No screening for men younger than 40.

  • No “routine” screening for men aged 40 to 54 and at average risk; for those in this age group who are at higher risk (e.g., black men, those with family histories of prostate cancer), individualize screening decisions.

  • For men aged 55 to 69, engage in shared decision making and proceed based on the man's values and preferences.

  • No “routine” screening for men older than 70 or men with life expectancy shorter than 15 years.

  • When screening, consider biennial instead of annual screening.


This guideline supplants a 2009 AUA “Best Practice Statement,” which stated that screening “. . . should be offered to healthy, well-informed men 40 years of age or older” (J Urol 2009; 182:2232). The new guideline narrows the age range for “routine” screening to 55 to 69, because that was the core age group in the European screening trial (JW Gen Med Mar 14 2012). Still, the guideline makes for some frustrating reading: Phrases such as “no routine screening” (my italics) are ambiguous, and many clinicians find difficulty in navigating the interplay between a patient's “values and preferences” and the complexity of potential benefits and harms of screening.

Many media reports publicized the new guideline as evidence that urologists are backing off from aggressive PSA screening. However, some urologists have criticized the AUA for not presenting screening more favorably. And finally, this guideline differs substantially from that of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which recommends against PSA screening for all age groups (JW Gen Med Jun 7 2012).

Editor Disclosures at Time of Publication

  • Disclosures for Allan S. Brett, MD at time of publication Nothing to disclose


Reader Comments (3)

Charlene Kaiser M.D. Physician, Preventive Medicine, retired

Because I am a physician, I am frequently asked questions about PSA screening by friends and family. When I describe the current recommendation, I am invariably asked what is meant by "the patient's values and preferences." Most of these individuals want either a more definitive answer or statistics about the pros and cons of such testing.

David Terp

We should continue to check it on men 50-75, perhaps biennially, and younger with higher risk men.

Competing interests: None declared

David Most, PhD Other, Urology, Juno Beach, FL

After so many years of hearing "early detection, early detection", the recent anti-early detection barrage has succeeded in creating much confusion and uncertainly. Early detection does give men the best opportunity for making informed decisions. Bombarding men (and women) with anti-screening messages will likely halt the slow decline in death rates attributable to screening and early detection.

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