A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level above 4 ng/mL has historically been recognized as an appropriate threshold to recommend biopsy; however the risk of high-grade disease observed among men with lower PSA levels in the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial has led to calls to change the criteria for biopsy referral. To aid providers when discussing aggressiveness of biopsy by cataloging available community biopsy patterns and determine whether lower PSA thresholds are being used to recommend biopsy. Laboratory and biopsy records were reviewed among 59,764 men in a large Washington State health plan between 1998 and 2007. Follow-up in the 12-month period after a test was categorized as biopsy, urology visit without biopsy, additional PSA testing with no urology visit, or no PSA-related follow-up. Data analysis occurred between 2010 and 2011. Twenty-eight percent of tests with PSA levels ≥4.0 ng/mL, 2.9% of tests with levels between 2.5 and 4.0 ng/mL, and 0.4% of tests with levels <2.5 ng/mL were followed with a biopsy within 12 months. More than 40% of elevated tests (≥4.0 ng/mL) were followed by a urologist visit without a biopsy, and more than 30% of tests ≥4.0 did not have any PSA-related follow-up within 12 months. PSA velocity, defined as annualized rate of change in PSA level, was strongly associated with biopsy, especially when absolute PSA was <4.0 ng/mL. There appear to be no discernable temporal trends in biopsy thresholds or practice patterns based on PSA lower levels or velocity. Despite recent calls to more aggressively recommend biopsy at lower PSA thresholds, the practice in this large health plan has remained consistent over time.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health