Scientists Develop 94% Effective Prostate Cancer Blood Test

A new prostate cancer blood test developed in the United Kingdom proves more effective than current methods.

Key takeaways:
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    Prostate cancer blood test created by U.K. scientists shown to be 94% effective in a newly released study.
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    Current blood tests for prostate cancer have shown to be ineffective in studies conducted.
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    Prostate cancer is currently the second most common cancer in men behind skin cancer in the United States.

The test developed by Oxford Biodynamics in collaboration with the University of East Anglia is able to detect 94% of prostate cancers. It is known as the Prostate Screening EpiSwitch or new PSE test.

The NHS says it currently has no screening program for men dealing with prostate cancer in the U.K. due to potential risks that come with screening.

In a news release, Professor Dmitry Pshezhetskiy at the University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School highlights the growing concern around a few prostate cancer testing options.

"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," Pshezhetskiy said. "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."

The goal of the U.K. study involving 147 patients was to combine the Episwitch prostate cancer test with a common prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test to increase accuracy.

Previous research published in September 2018, available in BMJ, found PSA tests were ineffective at detecting prostate cancer. Their conclusion says at best, PSA testing leads to slightly lower disease-specific mortality over 10 years. However, overall mortality was not impacted.

PSA tests are considered controversial by their association with false-positive and false-negative results, according to the NHS. The NHS finds one in seven men with normal PSA levels may be missed during PSA testing. Over diagnosis for prostate cancer is a concern due to possible treatments that may be harmful to someone who does not contain the disease.

Scientists involved in the University of East Anglia study found the new PSE test to be superior to current standard PSA tests. Researchers say the PSE test can be used for both diagnostic and screening purposes. This would limit the number of patients needing more expensive tests such as MRIs.

Investigators admit their study was limited to a population with a high cancer prevalence. In order to truly test the PSE test’s effectiveness, a larger population with lower cancer prevalence may confirm the true efficiency of the new test.

Jon Burrows, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer at Oxford Biodynamics, believes the PSE tests have a benefit to those currently in danger of prostate cancer.

"There is a clear need in everyday clinical practice for a highly accurate blood test that can screen men for prostate cancer and accurately identify those at risk while sparing those who up to now would be subject to unnecessary, expensive, and invasive procedures," Burrows said. "This is another example of how our product portfolio can contribute to reducing the total cost of care for global health."

Prostate cancer in the U.S.

The CDC says all men are at risk for prostate cancer. Based on CDC data, 13 out of 100 U.S. men will have prostate cancer in their lifetime.

In 2019, 224,733 new prostate cancers were reported in the U.S. along with 31,636 deaths from the disease.

The CDC says Black men are more likely to get prostate cancer and are twice as likely to die from the disease in comparison to other male races. Also, individuals with family members who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer are at increased risk.

Some symptoms of prostate cancer:

  • Trouble initiating urination
  • Weak or interrupted flow of urine
  • Increased urination during the day, but more so at night
  • Trouble emptying bladder
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Blood in urine

No standard test for prostate cancer screenings is used in the U.S.

The CDC lists the PSA test and digital rectal examination (DRE). The DRE involves a health care provider physically searching inside a man’s rectum to feel the prostate and locate any abnormalities, including cancer. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force does not endorse the DRE test due to a lack of successful evidence.

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john Alex
prefix 7 months ago
That sounds like great news! A 94% effective blood test for prostate cancer could potentially improve early detection and treatment outcomes for patients. However, more information would be needed to understand the specifics of the test, such as its sensitivity, specificity, and validation in clinical trials.