adult screening programme

Prostate cancer

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.

» Read more about prostate cancer on NHS UK

UK NSC screening recommendation Based on the last UK NSC review of this condition that occurred in November 2020.

Screening is not currently recommended for this condition.

Screening for prostate cancer is currently not recommended in the UK. This is because:

The Test

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.

The Intervention

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.

Review cycle

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

If you think your organisation should be added, please contact us.