Ethnic differences in prostate-specific antigen levels in men without prostate cancer: a systematic review

Melissa Barlow, Liz Down, Luke Mounce, Samuel W D Merriel, Jessica Watson, Tanimola Martins, Sarah E. R. Bailey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Black men are twice as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than White men. Raised prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels can indicate an increased risk of prostate cancer, however it is not known whether PSA levels differ for men of different ethnic groups.

PubMed and Embase were searched to identify studies that reported levels of PSA for men of at least two ethnic groups without a prostate cancer diagnosis or symptoms suggestive of prostate cancer. An adaptation of the Newcastle-Ottawa scale was used to assess risk of bias and study quality. Findings were stratified into the following broad ethnic groups: White, Black, Asian, Hispanic, and Other. Data were analysed in a narrative synthesis due to the heterogeneity of reported PSA measures and methods in the included studies.

A total of 654 197 males from 13 studies were included. By ethnicity, this included 536 201 White (82%), 38 287 Black (6%), 38 232 Asian (6%), 18 029 Pacific Island (3%), 13 614 Maori (2%), 8 885 Hispanic (1%), and 949 Other (
Black men without prostate cancer have higher PSA levels than White or Hispanic men, which reflects the higher rates of prostate cancer diagnosis in Black men. Despite that, the diagnostic accuracy of PSA for prostate cancer for men of different ethnic groups is unknown, and current guidance for PSA test interpretation does not account for ethnicity. Future research needs to determine whether Black men are diagnosed with similar rates of clinically significant prostate cancer to White men, or whether raised PSA levels are contributing to overdiagnosis of prostate cancer in Black men.
Original languageEnglish
JournalProstate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022


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