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Early detection of prostate cancer using prostate-specific antigen testing: an empirical evaluation among general practitioners and urologists

Authors Kappen S, Jürgens V, Freitag MH, Winter A

Received 3 November 2018

Accepted for publication 18 February 2019

Published 16 April 2019 Volume 2019:11 Pages 3079—3097

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CMAR.S193325

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Andrew Yee

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Beicheng Sun


Sanny Kappen,1 Verena Jürgens,1 Michael H Freitag,2 Alexander Winter3

1Division of Epidemiology and Biometry, Department of Health Services Research, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg, Oldenburg, Germany; 2Division of General Practice/Family Medicine, Department of Health Services Research, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg, Oldenburg, Germany; 3University Hospital for Urology, Klinikum Oldenburg, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg, Oldenburg, Germany

Background: Prostate cancer (PCa) is the most frequent cancer and the third leading cause of cancer death among German men. One option for PCa early detection is prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing, which is still under debate regarding its risk benefits. Besides recommendations on the early PCa detection, daily practice on PSA testing varies in, for example, information communication and usage of the test. This pilot study assessed potential differences between general practitioners (GPs) and urologists in handling PSA testing and guidelines on early detection of PCa.
Methods: 172 GPs belonging to the teaching network of the University of Oldenburg in Lower Saxony and Bremen and 128 practicing urologists were included in the online survey focusing on PSA testing. The questionnaire covered 43 questions on topics as the usage of the test, information communication, handling of test results and handling of/knowledge about national and international guidelines on PCa. Wether PSA testing is used in accordance with guidelines was also explored in four standardized case scenarios. Statistical analysis was done at a descriptive level.
Results: In total, 65 doctors participated in the survey (response proportion: 21.7%, n=65; 27.9%, n=48 [GPs]; 13.2%, n=17 [urologists]). Results of 41 GPs and 14 urologists were analyzed. The PSA test was judged as useful by all urologists, while almost half of the GPs valued the test as ambivalent or not useful. Urologists showed a more proactive approach of informing men on PSA testing. Regarding guidelines and recommendations on PSA testing, GPs were less familiar with them compared to the urologists. Doctors of both specialties did not always treat men in consistence with the guidelines. This was partially in contradiction to their self-appraisal.
Conclusion: This pilot study is highlighting differences in PSA testing practices between GPs and urologists in Germany. Urologists showed a more proactive approach. For further verification, we plan a more comprehensive study covering several German states.

Keywords: survey, guidelines, recommendations, testing practice, daily routine, PSA

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