Scientists have developed an “impressive” new blood test for prostate cancer that is 94% accurate.
In collaboration with Imperial College and the University of East Anglia (UEA), Oxford BioDynamics found that when the test was combined with a standard prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, more cases could be detected.
The research team published its findings in the journal Cancers, stating that the PSA test currently used by the NHS is not accurate enough. As a result, there have been numerous cases of unnecessary prostate biopsies in men without cancer. These tests have also provided “false reassurance in some men with cancer,” the study notes.
A pilot study of 147 patients evaluated the new test and concluded that it significantly improved detection of the disease. All the men studied had prostate cancer, leading the research team to conclude that it had an accuracy rate of 94%.
This new test is not only very accurate, but also fast, minimally invasive and cheap. The next phase of the study will use the test in a group of men whose cancer status is unknown.
Prostate cancer occurs when the cells in the prostate begin to grow out of control. In some cases, it can grow quickly and spread to other parts of the body, necessitating treatment.
Prostate Cancer UK reports that more than 47,000 men are diagnosed with the disease each year in England. More than 10,000 of them die, and in the UK about 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.
However, it doesn’t always cause symptoms, which is why it’s so important to understand the risk and get tested. Some may have urinary problems, in addition to back, hip, or pelvic pain, trouble getting or maintaining an erection, blood in the urine or semen, or unexplained weight loss in more advanced cases.
Prostate cancer primarily affects men over 50, with the risk increasing with age. It’s even higher for black men and those with a family history of the disease.
“There is currently no single test for prostate cancer, but PSA blood tests are among the most commonly used, alongside physical examinations, MRI scans and biopsies,” says Professor Dmitry Pshezhetskiy from UEA’s Norwich Medical School.
“However, PSA blood tests are not routinely used to screen for prostate cancer because the results can be unreliable. Only about a quarter of people who undergo a prostate biopsy for elevated PSA levels are found to have prostate cancer.
“There has therefore been a drive to create a new blood test with greater accuracy.
“When used to screen an at-risk population, the PSE test provides a rapid and minimally invasive diagnosis of prostate cancer with impressive performance. This suggests a real benefit for both diagnostic and screening purposes.”