Has PSA testing truly been a "public health disaster"?

Simon Chapman and Alexandra Barratt
Med J Aust 2010; 193 (7): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2010.tb03988.x
Published online: 4 October 2010

To the Editor: Costello and Murphy’s lament1 about the discoverer of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), Richard Ablin, describing PSA testing as a “hugely expensive public health disaster”2 contains several egregious claims that require correction. They write that “since the introduction of PSA testing in the 1980s, we have seen a 25% reduction in mortality” from the disease.

  • School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW.


Competing interests:

Simon Chapman has received payment as a Board Member of Cancer Australia. His comments here do not necessarily reflect those of Cancer Australia.

  • 1. Costello AJ, Murphy DG. Has PSA testing truly been a “public health disaster” [editorial]? Med J Aust 2010; 193: 4-5. <MJA full text>
  • 2. Ablin RJ. The great prostate mistake. New York Times 2010; 9 Mar. (accessed Jul 2010).
  • 3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Cancer — Australian cancer statistics update, May 2010. (accessed Jul 2010).
  • 4. Smith DP, King MT, Egger S, et al. Quality of life three years after diagnosis of localised prostate cancer: population based cohort study. BMJ 2009; 339: b4817.
  • 5. Schröder FH, Hugosson J, Roobol MJ, et al. Screening and prostate-cancer mortality in a randomized European study. N Engl J Med 2009; 360: 1320-1328.
  • 6. Kolata G. Prostate test found to save few lives. New York Times 2009; 18 Mar. (accessed Jul 2010).


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