adult screening programme
The prostate is a small gland found in men. It is located in the pelvis between the penis and the bladder. The main function of the prostate is to help in the production of semen. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and usually affects men over the age of 65.
UK NSC screening recommendation
Screening for prostate cancer is currently not recommended in the UK. This is because:
The PSA test is not accurate enough to detect prostate cancer that needs treatment. It can falsely find men who do not have prostate cancer. It can also miss some cancers. This means that many men might have to undergo unnecessary and often unpleasant tests and/or unnecessary treatment.
It is still unclear if other tests such as an MRI scan, with or without PSA, are accurate enough. Research is also currently looking at whether a method for predicting prostate cancer risk using a combination of a blood test and other information about a man could be more accurate. But more studies are necessary to confirm the early results.
At present, there is no single treatment that is definitely better for patients with early-stage prostate cancer, as treatments’ effectiveness needs to be weighed up against their side effects.
The screening programme
It is unclear how PSA screening impacts deaths due to prostate cancer.
A PSA-based screening programme could harm men as some of them would be diagnosed with a cancer that would not have caused them problems during their life. This would lead to additional tests and treatments which can also have harmful side effects.
Supporting documents from the 2020 review
UK NSC Rapid Review Screening Prostate Cancer Final February 2021
This document provides the evidence on which the current UK NSC recommendation is based.
Screening for prostate cancer Coversheet Redacted
This document summarises the review process including the public consultation comments.
Date previous review completed: 2020
Next review estimated to be completed: 2023 to 2024.
To see previous evidence reviews, visit the UK NSC archive.
Organisations interested in Prostate Cancer
These organisations have expressed interest in this recommendation and may submit responses to evidence reviews.
List of organisations
- Cancer Black Care
- Cancer Research & Genetics UK
- Cancer Research UK
- Chestnut Appeal
- Faculty of Public Health
- Northern Ireland Cancer Network
- Primary Care Urology Society
- Prostate Cancer UK
- Prostate Scotland
- Royal College of General Practitioners
- Royal College of Nursing
- Royal College of Pathologists
- Royal College of Physicians
- Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
- Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
- Royal College of Radiologists
- Royal College of Surgeons
- Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
- Society and College of Radiographers
- Tackle Prostate Cancer
- The British Association for Cancer Research
- The British Association of Urological Surgeons