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Annu Rev Med. 2002;53:355-68.

Early management of prostate cancer: how to respond to an elevated PSA?

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Scott Department of Urology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


Support for prostate cancer screening efforts is provided by observational studies reporting decreases in prostate cancer-specific mortality in areas where screening is performed with digital rectal exam (DRE) and measurement of serum prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels. The combination of PSA and DRE is an excellent cancer-screening tool with sensitivity and positive predictive value superior to that of mammography and breast exam. Use of percent free PSA further improves the specificity of PSA testing, particularly in the range of 4-10 ng/ml, at which most false positive PSA tests occur. Men older than 50 with a >10-year life expectancy should be considered for prostate cancer screening. Those with an abnormal DRE or a PSA above 4 ng/ml should be referred to a urologist for further discussion of the risks and benefits of a prostate biopsy. Furthermore, those with a significant change in either DRE or PSA results, or those at higher risk for prostate cancer with a PSA level above 2.5 ng/ml, should also be referred for evaluation.

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