ETCH participates in feasibility study for early detection of prostate cancer


The National Institute for Health Development (TAI) and the Estonian Urological Society are starting a feasibility study to assess whether it is possible to conduct a screening programme for the early detection of prostate cancer in Estonia, considering men’s individual risk of developing the disease.

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The study’s partners for TAI and the Estonian Urological Society include the Health Insurance Fund, East Tallinn Central Hospital, Tartu University Hospital, North Estonia Medical Centre, and SYNLAB Estonia.

“Risk-based screening is a novel approach to the early detection of prostate cancer, which is being studied in several European countries simultaneously,” explained Dr Martin Kivi, Head of the Centre of Urology at the ETCH Surgery Clinic and president of the Estonian Urological Society.

Throughout 2024, 12,000 men aged 50-69 living in Tallinn or Tartu who have valid health insurance and have not had a PSA test in the last 12 months will be invited to participate in the study. All participants will receive a personal invitation by e-mail, regular post or SMS from the end of May. Participation in the study is voluntary and free of charge.

The screening begins with the measurement of PSA, or prostate-specific antigen, from a blood sample. For this, participants are asked to schedule a suitable time for the blood test at a collection point (in Tallinn or Tartu) online or by phone. Men whose PSA test result exceeds a certain level are referred to a urologist and further action will take place at a healthcare facility, including the ETCH. At the urologist’s appointment, the risk of prostate cancer is assessed through a questionnaire and examination. If the risk score exceeds the set level, the urologist refers the participant for an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan and further tests, if necessary. After the survey, participants are asked to give feedback on the organisation of the survey.

The ETCH will carry out additional tests for patients who have received the study invitation and whose PSA test result is ≥3 ng/mL. For further examinations at the ETCH, you need to register for a urologist appointment through the online platform or by telephone at +372 620 7100 (appointments cannot be booked through ETCH customer service).

At East Tallinn Central Hospital, urologist appointments for the study will be held on Wednesdays from 12:00-15:00 in room RC0106, C-building, Ravi tn 18. For more information, call +372 620 7100 (Wednesdays from 12:00-15:00).

PLEASE NOTE! Invited patients can only give a blood test at the blood collection point of the study. As part of the study, a blood test cannot be performed at the ETCH.

According to Kaire Innos, the study leader and research director at TAI, the aim of the risk-based prostate cancer screening is to identify men at high risk of prostate cancer, while reducing the number of diagnostic and treatment procedures for low-risk men.

“This approach, which is also recommended by the European Commission, avoids unnecessary health risks associated with these procedures and also save healthcare costs,” added Innos. “Risk-based screening consists of several stages, and at each stage, men who need further tests are screened.”

The study is carried out in collaboration with the European Urological Association’s research network PRAISE-U, which evaluates the effectiveness and feasibility of risk-based screening in European countries.

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed malignant tumour in men and is highly treatable if detected early.