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N Z Med J. 2003 Jun 20;116(1176):U476.

Screening for prostate cancer: a survey of New Zealand general practitioners.

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Ora Toa Medical Centre, Porirua, New Zealand.



To determine the views of general practitioners (GPs) in relation to screening for prostate cancer.


A questionnaire was sent to a random, national sample of 575 New Zealand general practitioners, stratified to include equal numbers of rural and urban GPs.


The response rate to the questionnaire was 66.3%. A 55-year-old man presenting for an annual checkup or requesting advice about screening for prostate cancer would be given a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test by 74% of GPs. If the same man had a family history of prostate or breast cancer, 93% of GPs would carry out a PSA test. Most GPs overestimated the effectiveness of screening tests for prostate cancer and were uncertain about the importance of associated risk factors. Some form of screening for prostate cancer is performed by 97.5% of GPs, and 50% of GPs support a national population-screening programme. 'Watchful waiting' is considered to be a reasonable treatment option for a man with localised prostate cancer and less than 10 years' life expectancy by 40% of GPs compared with 2% for a man with more than 10 years' life expectancy.


Most GPs undertake screening for prostate cancer, even though there is no evidence that screening improves life expectancy and quality of life.

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