A simple prostate test could end misery of painful biopsies

SGMC Hosts Prostate Cancer Screening

Study author Professor Yong-Jie Lu, of Queen Mary University of London, said: "The current prostate cancer test often leads to unnecessary, invasive biopsies and over-diagnosis and over-treatment of many men, causing significant harm to patients and a waste of valuable healthcare resources". Two tests that are commonly used to screen for prostate cancer are the DRE and PSA tests.

For those who do have the disease, doctors then struggle to work out which cases are aggressive and need treatment and which cases can be left alone as they are unlikely to prove fatal.

The new CTC test was developed by researchers at Queen Mary University of London.

PSA is a protein produced by normal cells in the prostate and also by prostate cancer cells.

The current standard involves a blood test that ANGLE said had high false-positive rates, resulting in unnecessary tissue biopsies which did not contain cancer cells.

Researchers found that the presence of CTCs in pre-biopsy blood samples correctly determined which patients had cancer (as confirmed by biopsy). It is now detected using a blood test that measures PSA levels.

Additionally, the number and type of CTCs present in the blood was also indicative of the aggressiveness of the cancer. The present routine with regards to the consolidated PSA test and biopsy for prostate disease in this way brings about pointless biopsies and over-finding and overtreatment of numerous men.

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.

Since September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, this is a good time to bring attention to the importance of an annual screening and the age at which men should start getting screening tests.

It would be important to see these results refined in larger studies before clinicians could rule out tests such as biopsy.

Between 1986-1990 and 2011-2015, the five-year relative survival from prostate cancer improved from 59% to 95%.

This uncertainty can lead to some men receiving unnecessary treatment for a disease that will never kill them.

Prominent players in the prostate cancer treatment market are emphasizing on R&D and the manufacture of therapeutics for the long-term survival of patients.

This is now the gold standard for diagnosis but is not yet available to all men in the UK. Certain men are at higher risk, including: men with a family history of prostate cancer, men of African-American descent, and men with bothersome urinary symptoms.

Anyone with concerns can speak to one of Prostate Cancer UK's specialist nurses on 0800 074 8383.

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