Prostate test break­through

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Laura Don­nelly Health ed­i­tor

A SIM­PLE test to spot ag­gres­sive prostate can­cer could save thou­sands of men un­der­go­ing need­less biop­sies and treat­ment.

British sci­en­tists said the tech­nique, which picks up cir­cu­lat­ing can­cer cells in a pa­tient’s blood, could be avail­able on the NHS in as lit­tle as three years.

Prostate can­cer is the most com­mon form of the dis­ease among British men, with 47,000 di­ag­noses a year.

Cur­rently, men with pos­si­ble signs of the dis­ease are of­fered a test that looks for el­e­vated lev­els of a pro­tein called PSA. If high lev­els are de­tected, a tis­sue biopsy of the prostate gland has to be taken, but no tu­mour will be found in about three quar­ters of men un­der­go­ing the in­va­sive pro­ce­dure.

In other cases, dis­ease is found, with men un­der­go­ing gru­elling treat­ment, de­spite the fact the tu­mour was grow­ing so slowly that it would not have proved deadly.

The new test is able to iden­tify the most ag­gres­sive cases, which re­quire treat­ment, with ac­cu­racy of more than

90 per cent, when com­bined with PSA re­sults. Sci­en­tists from Queen Mary Univer­sity of Lon­don said it could help men avoid un­nec­es­sary and in­va­sive biop­sies, over-di­ag­no­sis and overtreat­ment.

The test, called Par­sor­tix – de­tects early can­cer cells, or cir­cu­lat­ing tu­mour cells (CTCS), that have left the tu­mour and en­tered the blood­stream.

This ap­pears to be more ac­cu­rate than mea­sur­ing PSA pro­teins, which can be present in the blood for rea­sons other than can­cer.

The study, pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Urolog y, looked at the use of the CTC test in 98 pre-biopsy pa­tients and 155 newly di­ag­nosed prostate can­cer pa­tients at St Bartholome­w’s Hospi­tal in Lon­don.

Re­searchers found that the pres­ence of CTCS in pre-biopsy blood sam­ples cor­rectly de­ter­mined which pa­tients had can­cer. The num­ber and type of CTCS also helped in­di­cate how ag­gres­sive the can­cer was.

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