Objectives: The objectives of the study were to identify the current standards of clinical practice regarding prostate cancer screening in western Europe, Canada, and the United States, and to highlight major characteristics of current prostate cancer screening programs or patterns of practice.
Methods: We performed a semi-structured interview by means of a self-administered questionnaire sent by fax to 26 institutes pertaining to the International Network of Agencies for Health Technology Assessment.
Results: None of the countries surveyed had a formal national screening policy. Despite that, all the countries answering the questionnaire had discretionary, public-financed screening practices. Moreover, some scientific and professional organizations recommended population screening for prostate cancer, and few of the surveyed countries offered it as experimental practice within a randomized controlled trial. Survey results showed variation regarding screening policies, in particular test of choice, age cut-off points, and treatment prescribed for positive test results.
Conclusions: Despite the lack of conclusive evidence on the benefits of prostate cancer screening, the availability of simple and easy-to-administer tests has lead to an enormous variation on screening policies around the world. Practice variations also affect prostate cancer therapy.