On 2 March 2022 the Chief Scientific Advisors to the European Commission published a scientific opinion which is in favour of the development of EU wide guidelines on risk stratified prostate specific antigen (PSA)-based prostate cancer screening, in combination with additional MRI scanning as a follow-up test.
The Chief Advisors following the evidence report from a network of scientific experts advising the European Commission on the update of its Recommendations on Cancer Screening. These experts concluded that there is a “strong scientific basis for introducing life-saving screening programmes in EU member states for both lung cancer and prostate cancer.”
The experts concluded that there is good scientific evidence for the benefit of risk stratified, organised, population-based PSA-based prostate cancer screening, particularly in combination with additional tests such as MRI scanning as a follow-up test. The use of active surveillance was noted as a helpful strategy for combating overtreatment.
The experts highlighted that further research and ongoing monitoring are needed to identify the groups that will most benefit from screening – particularly on the ideal age range, and to ensure that an appropriate balance of benefits and harms is maintained.
The harms of ad hoc, opportunistic PSA testing for men were also noted in the report, and as something to be discouraged in order to reduce the risk of overdiagnosis and overtreatment, especially in older men.
In response to the publication of the report, the Chair of the EAU Policy Office, Prof Hendrik Van Poppel states:
“We welcome the conclusions of the scientific experts, and we believe that if the European Commission and EU Member States act on this scientific advice, then it will help turn the tide on increasing mortality and ‘too late’ diagnosis of Prostate Cancer across the EU.”
The report is from SAPEA, which is part of the European Commission’s Scientific Advice Mechanism.
Together with the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors, they provide independent scientific advice to European Commissioners to support their decision-making. The full report can be downloaded here.
The Scientific Opinion of the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors can be found here (PDF).