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Urology. 2000 Nov 1;56(5):817-22.

Digital rectal examination and prostate-specific antigen abnormalities at the time of prostate biopsy and biopsy outcomes, 1980 to 1997.

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  • 1Department of Health Sciences Research, Section of Clinical Epidemiology, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Foundation, Rochester, Minnesota, USA.



To assess the temporal trends in the prevalence of pre-biopsy abnormalities in digital rectal examination (DRE) findings, serum prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels, and cancer detection rates by abnormality in all men from the community who had a prostate biopsy.


All Olmsted County, Minnesota residents who had their first prostate biopsy performed between January 1980 and December 1997 were identified (n = 1729). The complete medical records of these men were reviewed to determine the clinical findings at the time of the biopsy and the biopsy outcome.


The prevalence of an abnormal DRE decreased from 69% in 1980 to 1986 to 45% in 1993 to 1997 (P <0.001). The prevalence of an isolated elevated PSA level (normal DRE) increased from 28% in 1987 to 1992 to 42% in 1993 to 1997 (P <0.001). In men diagnosed with cancer, 55% had an abnormal DRE in 1993 to 1997 (P <0.001). Prostate cancer was detected in 471 (37%) of 1280 men with an abnormal DRE or elevated PSA level noted within 6 weeks of the biopsy. The positive predictive value for prostate cancer was 61% (229 of 373) in men with an abnormal DRE and elevated PSA, 34% (166 of 494) in men with an elevated PSA only, and 18% (60 of 327) in men with an abnormal DRE only.


The prevalence of an abnormal DRE at the time of biopsy has declined and that of an isolated elevated PSA has increased. However, nearly 40% of men with abnormalities in both PSA and DRE at the time of biopsy had a negative biopsy for prostate cancer. An increase in both the sensitivity and specificity of screening tests may further enhance the early detection of prostate cancer and potentially decrease the high negative biopsy rate.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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