New prostate cancer testing guidelines to improve outcomes for Australian men

MEDIA RELEASE | embargoed to 00.01 20 February 2016

A new set of evidence-based guidelines mark an important advance in the management of prostate cancer in Australia and should help improve outcomes for men by providing a clear, clinical pathway for testing as well as the management of men diagnosed with prostate cancer, according to the Urological Society of Australia and New Zealand.

Urological Society President, Professor Mark Frydenberg said the guidelines, PSA Testing and Early Management of Test-detected Prostate Cancer: Guidelines for health professionals, formulated by an Expert Advisory Panel which included general practitioners, public health experts, urologists, pathologists, oncologists, epidemiologists and allied health professionals, and endorsed by the NHMCR, should also help eliminate confusion around the appropriate use of the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood test.

Previously there have been varying recommendations from a range of healthcare bodies regarding the use of the PSA test leading to lack of confidence in some men and their doctors about the appropriate course of action.

“The achievement of a consensus position among these different bodies is a very significant step forward and is something many other countries have tried, but have been unable to achieve.

“We congratulate the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and Cancer Council Australia for jointly sponsoring and facilitating the project in the interests of developing evidence-based guidelines that best serve the interests of Australian men, and we have been pleased to participate in this collaborative process,” said Professor Frydenberg.

“We know that early diagnosis is key to saving lives for men with aggressive prostate cancer. However, we also know that in some men prostate cancer is a slow growing disease that may never be life threatening.

“For a number of years the Urological Society has advocated a more strategic approach to the use of the PSA test - which while imperfect is the best available test for identifying a risk of prostate cancer - to ensure men who may not benefit are not tested or treated unnecessarily but, equally, to ensure those who are at risk of dying from the disease are not missed.

“Our strong hope is that mortality rates from prostate cancer could be reduced by the consistent adoption of these guidelines by clinicians,” said Professor Frydenberg.

The recommendations help define which men specifically will benefit the most from testing with recommendations for testing of men in different age brackets and with varying family histories after a discussion of the risks of benefits of testing with their healthcare professional.

The guidelines also contain recommendations regarding treatment options that should be offered to men diagnosed with prostate cancer, including the use of Active Surveillance which is already used widely by Australian urologists to delay definitive treatment in men with lower risk cancer.

Every year about 22,000 Australian men are diagnosed with, and close to 3,300 men die from prostate cancer.

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