Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
JAMA. 2006 Nov 15;296(19):2336-42.

PSA screening among elderly men with limited life expectancies.

Author information

  • 1Division of Geriatrics, San Francisco VA Medical Center, California, San Francisco 94121, USA.



Most guidelines do not recommend prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening in elderly men who have limited life expectancies because the known harms of screening outweigh potential benefits. However, there are no large-scale studies of actual PSA screening practices in elderly men, according to life expectancy.


To characterize the extent of PSA screening among elderly men, including those with limited life expectancies.


Cohort study of 597 642 male veterans aged 70 years and older who were seen at 104 US Department of Veterans Affairs facilities during both 2002 and 2003, without a history of prostate cancer, elevated PSA, or prostate cancer symptoms. Charlson comorbidity scores were used to stratify men into 3 groups ranging from best health (score = 0) to worst health (score >or= 4).


Receipt of PSA testing during 2003 was based on US Department of Veterans Affairs data and Medicare claims.


In 2003, 56% of elderly men had a PSA test performed. Although PSA screening rates decreased with advancing age, within each 5-year age group the percentage of men who underwent a PSA test did not substantially decline with worsening health. For example, among men aged 85 years and older, 34% in best health had a PSA test compared with 36% in worst health. In multivariate analyses, many nonclinical factors, such as marital status and region of the country, had a greater effect on PSA screening than health, and screening rates exceeded 60% for some subgroups of men in worst health.


Prostate-specific antigen screening rates among elderly veterans with limited life expectancies should be much lower than current practice given the known harms of screening. More attention to prognosis is needed when making screening PSA recommendations to elderly men.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Silverchair Information Systems
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk