Measurement of serum prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and digital rectal examination (DRE) are commonly used for prostate cancer screening. Clinicians have been advised to avoid measuring serum PSA after DRE because of the possibility of spurious elevation. However, studies in healthy volunteers have found no change. We sought to determine whether DRE performed by internists affects PSA levels in a primary care clinic population.
Men older than 49 years enrolled in a Veterans Affairs internal medicine clinic were eligible for the study. For all patients, prostate size and nodularity were assessed by DRE. Blood for determination of PSA levels was drawn immediately before DRE and 30 minutes after DRE. All patients completed a questionnaire regarding voiding.
Two hundred two men aged 50 to 85 years (mean, 67 years) were enrolled and had complete data. The mean PSA level increased by 0.26 μg/L after DRE (P<.001). Six patients (2.9%; 95% confidence interval, 0.6% to 5.3%) had an increase in PSA level from less than 4 μg/L to more than 4 μg/L after DRE. There was a statistically significant but weak correlation between voiding score and PSA level (coefficient,.17; P=.02). Patients with an enlarged prostate gland had higher PSA levels than did patients with normal prostates or borderline results of examination. Nodularity did not predict an increased PSA level.
We conclude, in an elderly veteran population, that DRE causes a statistically significant but clinically insignificant increase in serum PSA level. Additionally, we found that symptoms and physical examination results cannot be used to select a population for whom PSA screening would likely be useful.(Arch Intern Med. 1995;155:389-392)
Thank you for submitting a comment on this article. It will be reviewed by JAMA Internal Medicine editors. You will be notified when your comment has been published. Comments should not exceed 500 words of text and 10 references.
Do not submit personal medical questions or information that could identify a specific patient, questions about a particular case, or general inquiries to an author. Only content that has not been published, posted, or submitted elsewhere should be submitted. By submitting this Comment, you and any coauthors transfer copyright to the journal if your Comment is posted.
* = Required Field
Disclosure of Any Conflicts of Interest*
Indicate all relevant conflicts of interest of each author below, including all relevant financial interests, activities, and relationships within the past 3 years including, but not limited to, employment, affiliation, grants or funding, consultancies, honoraria or payment, speakers’ bureaus, stock ownership or options, expert testimony, royalties, donation of medical equipment, or patents planned, pending, or issued. If all authors have none, check "No potential conflicts or relevant financial interests" in the box below. Please also indicate any funding received in support of this work. The information will be posted with your response.
Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.
Download citation file:
Web of Science® Times Cited: 2
Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.
More Listings atJAMACareerCenter.com >
Enter your username and email address. We'll send you a link to reset your password.
Enter your username and email address. We'll send instructions on how to reset your password to the email address we have on record.
Athens and Shibboleth are access management services that provide single sign-on to protected resources. They replace the multiple user names and passwords necessary to access subscription-based content with a single user name and password that can be entered once per session. It operates independently of a user's location or IP address. If your institution uses Athens or Shibboleth authentication, please contact your site administrator to receive your user name and password.