European journal of cancer prevention : the official journal of the European Cancer Prevention Organisation (ECP) vol:11 issue:6 pages:547-9
According to the 1996-1998 cancer incidence report of the cancer registry of the Belgian province of Limburg (LIKAR), prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men with a crude invasive cancer incidence rate of 123.7 per 100000 person-years (125.4 and 81.8 after standardization for the European and the world standard population). In a study on geographical differences between the occurrence of cancers in municipalities, prostate cancer standardized incidence rates (SIRs) were significantly higher in a number of municipalities, with mean relative risks of 1.2 and 1.3 after full Bayesian smoothing. We hypothesized that prostate cancer incidence rates are largely influenced by the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening policy of local physicians and that differences between municipalities are more informative about local screening habits then about real differences in cancer occurrence. The aim of this study was to test this hypothesis by relating local prostate cancer SIRs to the PSA screening coverage of the population of men in each municipality. The SIRs of prostate cancer in 1996-1998 for each municipality were provided by LIKAR. They related to all histologically or cytologically proven new invasive prostate cancers during these years. For each municipality, PSA coverage data were provided by the largest sick fund of the region. Coverage was defined as the proportion of men above the age of 40 that was tested at least once within the registration period. The SIR of each municipality (dependent variable) was related to the age-standardized corresponding coverage (independent variable) by linear regression and was adjusted for the number of inhabitants per municipality: log (standardized incidence rate) = 164 + 602 * (standardized PSA coverage), = 0.12. The model explained 6% of the variance in incidence. In conclusion, in this study no statistically significant relationship was identified between PSA coverage and prostate cancer incidence rate per municipality. This could result from no such relationship existing or from low statistical power.