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Prostate Cancer Awareness Month Brings News of More Precise Prostate Cancer Screening on the Horizon1 September 2011
Even better than discussing the benefits of early prostate cancer screening, is the fact that I can share some promising news about advancements in our testing resources. This month, Urology will publish the findings of a three-hospital study on a new urine-based prostate cancer test created by AnalizaDX, Inc., a Cleveland-based biotech company. Hospitals in Cleveland and Boston performed the test on 222 men, finding significant improvements in results accuracy.
Currently, the blood PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) test evaluates PSA levels in men on the basis that elevated levels indicate the potential presence of prostate cancer. Unfortunately, the current test can produce less-than-ideal false results. False negatives are believed to result from 15% of PSA tests and false positives 55-75% of the time. A false positive can put a patient on an unnecessary emotional rollercoaster and usually results in unneeded biopsies, as a positive test cannot be ignored. Obviously, false negatives can have much greater implications. While our current PSA screening method is truly invaluable, improvements would certainly be welcome.
As an assay, the new PSA/SIA screening is believed to be more accurate. The findings showed a 100 percent sensitivity, meaning no false negatives were reported. Further, an 80 percent specificity was shown; this is a drastic reduction in false positives currently seen. Its advantages are believed to stem from the fact that this new urine-based test evaluates a vast range of ultra-structural changes in the PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) protein, rather than just looking at a patient’s PSA level. Initial results indicate the test’s ability to decipher between the molecular structures of cancerous cells vs. non-cancerous cells by finding microscopic structural differences.
Currently, men with a high PSA reading are referred for biopsy. Though not inline with my medical opinion, many men with elevated PSA levels and positive biopsies choose to wait out their prostate cancer and look for signs of advancement, in symptoms and/or later screenings. This new PSA/SIA test is also believed to have the ability to assist prostate cancer experts with staging and advancement determinations. If so, I believe we could have fewer men waiting and more men acting. The presence of prostate cancer should not be put on hold; in most cases it should be dealt with through radical, robotic prostatectomy surgery. If we can use this test to more accurately qualify a man’s prostate cancer, surgical decisions may be clearer to a reluctant patient or doctor.
So this month, remember your PSA test. It is still our best line of defense against prostate cancer. I’m hopeful that continued research on the PSA/SIA will show the same great results it has thus far, and perhaps this time next year I’ll be encouraging you to seek it out.