Objectives. This study analyzed methods of prostate cancer early detection in community settings throughout the United States against standards and findings of earlier studies conducted at academic medical centers. Methods. The study was conducted at 148 clinical centers during Prostate Cancer Awareness Week in September 1993 and continued through June 1994. A total of 31,953 eligible subjects were tested by both digital rectal examination (DRE) and prostate-specific antigen (PSA). PSA was tested with the Abbott IMx PSA assay and reported by Roche Biomedical, Inc. Results. The study confirmed that elevated PSA levels (greater than 4.0 ng/mL) aid in the detection of organ-confined prostate cancer when used in conjunction with the DRE. Reflecting more conservative biopsy decision-making practices, study results nonetheless are comparable to earlier reports. Among 1307 subjects who underwent biopsy, 322 cancers were detected. The cancer detection rate was 3.6% for PSA, 3.0% for DRE, and 4.7% if either test result was positive. The positive predictive value (PPV) for elevated PSA levels (greater than 4.0 ng/mL) was 31.6%, significantly better (P <0.0001) than the PPV for abnormal DRE results (25.5%). Nearly 90% (88.9%) of staged cancers were diagnosed as localized. Elevated PSA levels detected more localized cancers (76 of 105 [72.4%]) than the DRE (72 of 105 [68.6%]). Of localized tumors, 33 (31.4%) were missed by DRE and detected solely by PSA, and 29 (27.6%) were missed by PSA and detected solely by DRE. The combined use of the two methods detected 33 additional localized tumors. Conclusions. Community practice throughout the United States demonstrates that PSA and DRE are consistently effective and efficient in the early detection of prostate cancer.
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