Primary Care Providers Ordering More PSA Tests

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WASHINGTON, D.C.—The rate of office-based PSA testing by primary care providers (PCPs) in the United States doubled from 1997 to 2008, data show.

Researchers at the University of Chicago Medical Center found that annual PSA testing increased significantly from an estimated 5.3 million tests (5.7% of all PCP visits) in 1997 to 12.4 million tests (11.5% of all visits) in 2008, an annual increase of about 6.5%, researchers reported at the American Urological Association 2011 Annual Meeting.

“This was particularly surprising given the declining incidence in prostate cancer diagnoses over the same period,” said first author Sandip Prasad, MD, a urologic oncology fellow.

PSA testing was more likely among non-Hispanics than Hispanics and older men, even those above age 75, compared with men aged 40-49.  Men in urban areas were 33% more likely to be tested than those in rural areas. Medicare and Medicaid patients were 20% and 58% less likely to be tested than privately insurance patients.

The researchers, led by Scott Eggener, MD, found no differences in PSA testing by comorbidity, race, or census region.

For their study, Dr. Eggener's group used data collected by the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, which is designed to collect data on the use and provision of ambulatory care services in hospital emergency and outpatient departments.

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