Study leader Dr. Atreya Dash, Dr. Sherrie Kaplan, Dr. John Billimek and Dr. Sheldon Greenfield of the Health Policy Research Institute at the University of California, Irvine, said the study involved 104 patients.
The researchers said using the patient-reported Total Illness Burden Index for Prostate Cancer and the physician-reported Charlson Comorbidity Index they could successfully target prostate patients who would not benefit from biopsy to discover possible cancer.
The study, published online ahead of the print edition of the journal Cancer, said about 20 percent of men are in such a high-risk category for death or hospitalization they should consider not having a biopsy for prostate cancer.
The study does not preclude the use of prostate specific antigen screening, but it does set the stage for a new and much more targeted strategy for biopsy choice, producing fewer unneeded biopsies and fewer invasive, side-effect-producing treatments, the researchers said.
"Before prostate biopsy, providers should assess the number and severity of the patient's comorbid conditions to discuss whether proceeding with biopsy or therapy is likely to be beneficial," Dash said in a statement.