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 combining the test with a standard prostate-specific antigen test (PSA), more cases could be detected.
Publishing its findings in the journal Cancers, the research team stated that the PSA test currently used by the NHS is not sufficiently accurate. As a result, there have been numerous cases of unnecessary prostate biopsies in men with no 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, concluding that it significantly improved detection of the disease. All the men studied had prostate cancer, leading the research team to conclude its 94% accuracy.
This new test is not only highly accurate, but rapid, minimally invasive and inexpensive. The next stage of research will use the test on a group of men where the cancer status is unknown.
Prostate cancer develops when the cells in the prostate begin to grow in an uncontrolled way. In some cases, it can grow quickly and spread to other areas 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 these lose their lives, and across the UK, around 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 might experience urinary problems, alongside back, hip or pelvis pain, problems getting or keeping an erection, blood in the urine or semen or unexplained weight loss in more advanced cases.
Prostate cancer primarily impacts men over 50, with the risk increasing with age. It is 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 used, alongside physical examinations, MRI scans and biopsies”, says Professor Dmitry Pshezhetskiy of UEA’s Norwich Medical School.
“However, PSA blood tests are not routinely used to screen for prostate cancer, as results can be unreliable. Only about a quarter of people who have a prostate biopsy due to an elevated PSA level are found to have prostate cancer.
“There has therefore been a drive to create a new blood test with greater accuracy.
“When tested in the context of screening a population at risk, the PSE test yields a rapid and minimally invasive prostate cancer diagnosis with impressive performance. This suggests a real benefit for both diagnostic and screening purposes.”