We conducted a meta-analysis using results from the Korean literature to determine whether prostate-specific antigen (PSA) or digital rectal examination (DRE) or transrectal ultrasonography (TRUS) provides a better diagnostic outcome for possible prostate cancer patients. An extensive literature search of MedRIC database et al. (1980 to 2003) was performed using the medical subject headings "PSA", "DRE", "TRUS" and "prostate cancer". Of the 108 articles that we retrieved, 13 studies (2,029 subjects) were selected for this meta-analysis. The criteria for quality evaluation were as follows: the study subjects must have been compared clinically for suspected prostate cancer, and the articles must have included individual data about sensitivity and specificity for this diagnostic triad based on the biopsy results as a reference standard. For the quantitative meta-analysis process the Hasselblad method was utilized. The pooled sensitivity and specificity for a PSA level greater than 4 ng/mL were 91.3% and 35.9%, respectively; and those for a PSA level greater than 10 ng/mL were 77.3% and 67.5%, respectively; and those for DRE were 68.4% and 71.5%, respectively; and those for TRUS were 73.6% and 61.3%, respectively. According to the results in a fixed effect model for PSA criteria, the estimates of d for PSA4 and PSA10 were 0.8517 [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.6694, 1.0340] and 1.0996 (95% CI: 0.9459, 1.2534), respectively. Also, according to the results using a random effect model for both DRE and TRUS criteria, the estimates of d for DRE and TRUS were 0.8398 (95% CI: 0.7169, 0.9627) and 0.8002 (95% CI: 0.6714, 0.9289), respectively. The detection rate for combination testing of PSA, DRE and TRUS for the diagnosis of prostate cancer jumped further to 68.3% or to 76.8%. In conclusion, this study suggests that this diagnostic triad for prostate cancer was noneffective when they were used separately. Therefore, we recommend that the urologists should use PSA together with DRE and TRUS for the primary diagnosis of prostate cancer in men with lower urological symptoms.
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