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Br J Cancer. 2000 Feb;82(3):731-6.

Adding free to total prostate-specific antigen levels in trials of prostate cancer screening.

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Department of Environmental and Preventive Medicine, Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, St Bartholomew's and the Royal London School of Medicine and Dentistry, UK.


We used a nested case-control design on data from men in four prospective studies (from the UK, Maryland in the USA, and two from Finland) with available stored serum samples to determine whether there was an advantage in measuring both free prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and total PSA as a potential screening test for prostate cancer. Of these men, 247 were verified through national vital statistics offices as having died of prostate cancer, or having developed the disease, and 953 men who did not develop prostate cancer (controls) were selected, matched to cases for age, study centre and sample storage duration. Fixing the false-positive rate at 1%, the prostate cancer detection rate (sensitivity) over the 3 years following serum collection (based on 14 cancers) increased from an estimated 95% using total PSA to 97% using free and bound PSA (that is, bound to alpha-antichymotrypsin which together with the free form is total PSA). Over a 6-year period (based on 41 cancers) a similar difference occurred (52% and 56% detection rates respectively). We conclude that there is no material advantage in adding free to total PSA in prostate cancer screening trials.

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