Prostate test breakthrough
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.