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Digital Rectal Examination, PSA Testing Rates Declining

(HealthDay News) -- Following US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations against routine prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening, there has been a decrease in utilization of digital rectal examination and PSA testing, according to a study published in the October issue of The Journal of Urology.


Jonathan Shoag, MD, from New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, and colleagues characterized trends in the rate of digital rectal examination and PSA testing by primary care physicians using the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey for men older than 40 years presenting for preventive care. Data were included for 3368 visits for the study of digital rectal examination trends from 2005 to 2012, and for 4035 visits for the study of PSA trends from 2002 to 2012.


The researchers observed a decrease in the proportion of visits where digital rectal examination was performed following the USPSTF recommendation, from 16.0 to 5.8% (64% decrease; P < 0.001). A similar decrease from 27.3 to 16.7% was seen in the proportion of visits where 
PSA testing was performed (39% decrease; P < 0.001). For men aged 55 to 69 years, there were decreases of 65 and 39%, respectively, in the number of visits where digital rectal examination and PSA testing were performed (P < 0.001).


"This suggests that prostate cancer screening is rapidly disappearing from primary care practice," the authors write.

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