The latest prostate cancer blood test can reduce biopsies. The test detects the circulating tumor bodies in the blood. According to a recent study, we can combine the profile of the new test with prostate-specific antigen (PSA) results. In this way, we can diagnose prostate cancer with 90% accuracy.
Dr. Yong-Jie Lu said that the accuracy of this test is more than any other biochemical marker of prostate cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), 1 out of 9 males will have prostate cancer during their lifetime. The ACS estimates that 174,000 males in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2019. Moreover, 31,620 males will die of this cancer in 2019.
Circulating tumor cells are actually the cancer cells that get separated from the original tumor. They can spread cancer to other parts of the body of an individual.
PSA alone is not a good indicator of prostate cancer
The prostate gland produces a protein called PSA. In the case of cancer, the gland produces a higher amount of PSA protein. This serves as an indicator of prostate cancer.
However, the production also increases in case of inflammation of the gland. This results in elevated plasma level of PSA protein.
Therefore, for confirmation, an individual undergoes biopsy. In a biopsy, the surgeon removes small sections of the prostate gland for tissue analysis.
The biopsy is painful as well as a risky procedure because it can lead to bleeding and infection. In some individuals, the biopsy along with the raised level of PSA in blood has shown no occurrence of cancer.
Moreover, if the biopsy unveils cancer, it is non-aggressive in many cases.
Also read- Signs and Symptoms Of Prostate Cancer in Men
The present procedure of combining PSA levels with biopsy may lead to further unnecessary biopsies, over-diagnosis, and unwanted treatments.
It also results in harm to the individual as well as the waste of money, time and resources.
Prof. Lu said that we need a method for a better selection of patients who need to undergo biopsy. We clearly need an improved technique with better diagnostic properties for prostate cancer.
To conduct a study, Lu with his colleagues selected 253 participants. They performed the new blood test on all of them. 98 individuals had not undergone biopsy. While the rest 155 individuals were recently diagnosed with prostate cancer but they had not received any treatment yet.
Effectiveness of the test in detecting prostate cancer
Researchers observed that the circulating tumor bodies were diagnostic for cancer in prebiopsy samples. Moreover, the level of those circulating tumor bodies indicated the aggressiveness of cancer.
Together with the PSA levels in the blood, the blood test was diagnostic for prostate cancer with 90% accuracy. Previously, the doctors used a painful biopsy procedure to confirm cancer.
Prof. Lu said that testing for circulating tumor bodies is a noninvasive, efficient and potentially accurate method for diagnosing this particular cancer.
The study is published in the Journal of Urology.
Researchers suggest conducting further studies to confirm the effectiveness of the test in diagnosing this cancer. After the completion of validation studies following the regulatory approval, researchers expect the test to be available in 3-5 years.