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      Lead Time and Overdiagnosis in Prostate-Specific Antigen Screening: Importance of Methods and Context

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          Abstract

          The time by which prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening advances prostate cancer diagnosis, called the lead time, has been reported by several studies, but results have varied widely, with mean lead times ranging from 3 to 12 years. A quantity that is closely linked with the lead time is the overdiagnosis frequency, which is the fraction of screen-detected cancers that would not have been diagnosed in the absence of screening. Reported overdiagnosis estimates have also been variable, ranging from 25% to greater than 80% of screen-detected cancers. We used three independently developed mathematical models of prostate cancer progression and detection that were calibrated to incidence data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program to estimate lead times and the fraction of overdiagnosed cancers due to PSA screening among US men aged 54-80 years in 1985-2000. Lead times were estimated by use of three definitions. We also compared US and earlier estimates from the Rotterdam section of the European Randomized Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer (ERSPC) that were calculated by use of a microsimulation screening analysis (MISCAN) model. The models yielded similar estimates for each definition of lead time, but estimates differed across definitions. Among screen-detected cancers that would have been diagnosed in the patients' lifetimes, the estimated mean lead time ranged from 5.4 to 6.9 years across models, and overdiagnosis ranged from 23% to 42% of all screen-detected cancers. The original MISCAN model fitted to ERSPC Rotterdam data predicted a mean lead time of 7.9 years and an overdiagnosis estimate of 66%; in the model that was calibrated to the US data, these were 6.9 years and 42%, respectively. The precise definition and the population used to estimate lead time and overdiagnosis can be important drivers of study results and should be clearly specified.

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          Most cited references 30

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          The influence of finasteride on the development of prostate cancer.

          Androgens are involved in the development of prostate cancer. Finasteride, an inhibitor of 5alpha-reductase, inhibits the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone, the primary androgen in the prostate, and may reduce the risk of prostate cancer. In the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial, we randomly assigned 18,882 men 55 years of age or older with a normal digital rectal examination and a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level of 3.0 ng per milliliter or lower to treatment with finasteride (5 mg per day) or placebo for seven years. Prostate biopsy was recommended if the annual PSA level, adjusted for the effect of finasteride, exceeded 4.0 ng per milliliter or if the digital rectal examination was abnormal. It was anticipated that 60 percent of participants would have prostate cancer diagnosed during the study or would undergo biopsy at the end of the study. The primary end point was the prevalence of prostate cancer during the seven years of the study. Prostate cancer was detected in 803 of the 4368 men in the finasteride group who had data for the final analysis (18.4 percent) and 1147 of the 4692 men in the placebo group who had such data (24.4 percent), for a 24.8 percent reduction in prevalence over the seven-year period (95 percent confidence interval, 18.6 to 30.6 percent; P<0.001). Tumors of Gleason grade 7, 8, 9, or 10 were more common in the finasteride group (280 of 757 tumors [37.0 percent], or 6.4 percent of the 4368 men included in the final analysis) than in the placebo group (237 of 1068 tumors [22.2 percent], P<0.001 for the comparison between groups; or 5.1 percent of the 4692 men included in the final analysis, P=0.005 for the comparison between groups). Sexual side effects were more common in finasteride-treated men, whereas urinary symptoms were more common in men receiving placebo. Finasteride prevents or delays the appearance of prostate cancer, but this possible benefit and a reduced risk of urinary problems must be weighed against sexual side effects and the increased risk of high-grade prostate cancer. Copyright 2003 Massachusetts Medical Society
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            Lead times and overdetection due to prostate-specific antigen screening: estimates from the European Randomized Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer.

            Screening for prostate cancer advances the time of diagnosis (lead time) and detects cancers that would not have been diagnosed in the absence of screening (overdetection). Both consequences have considerable impact on the net benefits of screening. We developed simulation models based on results of the Rotterdam section of the European Randomized Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer (ERSPC), which enrolled 42,376 men and in which 1498 cases of prostate cancer were identified, and on baseline prostate cancer incidence and stage distribution data. The models were used to predict mean lead times, overdetection rates, and ranges (corresponding to approximate 95% confidence intervals) associated with different screening programs. Mean lead times and rates of overdetection depended on a man's age at screening. For a single screening test at age 55, the estimated mean lead time was 12.3 years (range = 11.6-14.1 years) and the overdetection rate was 27% (range = 24%-37%); at age 75, the estimates were 6.0 years (range = 5.8-6.3 years) and 56% (range = 53%-61%), respectively. For a screening program with a 4-year screening interval from age 55 to 67, the estimated mean lead time was 11.2 years (range = 10.8-12.1 years), and the overdetection rate was 48% (range = 44%-55%). This screening program raised the lifetime risk of a prostate cancer diagnosis from 6.4% to 10.6%, a relative increase of 65% (range = 56%-87%). In annual screening from age 55 to 67, the estimated overdetection rate was 50% (range = 46%-57%) and the lifetime prostate cancer risk was increased by 80% (range = 69%-116%). Extending annual or quadrennial screening to the age of 75 would result in at least two cases of overdetection for every clinically relevant cancer detected. These model-based lead-time estimates support a prostate cancer screening interval of more than 1 year.
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              Competing risk analysis of men aged 55 to 74 years at diagnosis managed conservatively for clinically localized prostate cancer.

              The appropriate therapy for men with localized prostate cancer is uncertain. Until results of clinical trials are available, men and their physicians need guidance. To estimate survival based on a competing risk analysis stratified by age at diagnosis and histologic findings for men diagnosed as having clinically localized prostate cancer and who were managed conservatively. Retrospective cohort study. Connecticut Tumor Registry. A total of 767 men with localized prostate cancer diagnosed between 1971 and 1984, aged 55 to 74 years at diagnosis, either not treated or treated with immediate or delayed hormonal therapy, and followed up for 10 to 20 years after diagnosis. Estimates of the probability of dying from prostate cancer or other competing hazards. Men with tumors that have Gleason scores of 2 to 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 to 10 face a 4% to 7%, 6% to 11%, 18% to 30%, 42% to 70%, and 60% to 87% chance, respectively, of dying from prostate cancer within 15 years of diagnosis depending on their age at diagnosis. Men whose prostate biopsy specimens show Gleason score 2 to 4 disease face a minimal risk of death from prostate cancer within 15 years of diagnosis. Conversely, men whose biopsy specimens show Gleason score 7 to 10 disease face a high risk of death from prostate cancer when treated conservatively, even when cancer is diagnosed as late as age 74 years. Men with Gleason score 5 or 6 tumors face a modest risk of death from prostate cancer that increases slowly over at least 15 years of follow-up.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                JNCI Journal of the National Cancer Institute
                JNCI Journal of the National Cancer Institute
                Oxford University Press (OUP)
                0027-8874
                1460-2105
                March 17 2009
                March 18 2009
                March 10 2009
                March 18 2009
                : 101
                : 6
                : 374-383
                Article
                10.1093/jnci/djp001
                2720697
                19276453
                44bb9b6b-78a3-4c0d-9eb9-319f35b60e1b
                © 2009

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