Though the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) procedure, the traditional cancer screening test for men is the most preferred, the blood test does not offer a clear picture to doctors.
The University of Michigan Health System has begun offering a new urine test that could help in early detection of prostate cancer. Apart from helping some men avoid the discomfort of a needle biopsy, the new test will also spot those at highest risk for aggressive prostate cancer.
The urine test, called Mi-Prostate Score includes three specific markers that almost always reveal the malignancy. Studies in prostate tissue have established the combination improves on the accuracy of conventional PSA testing alone.
“Many more men have elevated PSA than actually have cancer but it can be difficult to determine this without biopsy. We need new tools to help patients and doctors make better decisions about what to do if serum PSA is elevated. Mi-Prostate Score helps with this,” says Dr. Scott Tomlins, assistant professor of pathology and urology at the University of Michigan.
The test is based on an innovation from the lab of Dr. Arul Chinnaiyan of a gene fusion (TMPRSS2:ERG) that is found in about half of all prostate cancers and believed to cause the malignancy.
Mi-Prostate Score looks for the T2:ERG fusion as well as another marker, PCA3. This combination together with serum PSA is used to assess the risk for prostate cancer. The test has the potential to predict whether a man has prostate cancer and also pointing out those at higher risk of aggressive cancer that grows and spreads quickly.
This test could be an intermediate step before getting a biopsy. It can help men with elevated PSA decide whether they need an immediate biopsy or can delay it and monitor their PSA test levels.
The researchers looked at urine samples from 2000 men. It was noted that Mi-Prostate Score was more accurate than PSA alone for identifying cancer as well as predicting aggressive tumors.
“This combination test is not designed to say definitively at diagnosis whether a man has aggressive prostate cancer, but it can provide a more accurate estimate of the likelihood of having cancer and the likelihood of that cancer being aggressive,” Tomlins says.
The test is available to anyone but needs to be prescribed by a doctor. For queries and details call the University of Michigan’s MLabs at 800-862-7284.
About prostate cancer
Prostate cancer is an abnormal, uncontrolled growth of cells that results in the formation of a tumor in the prostate gland. It is the third most common cause of death from cancer in men. The cancer is most common in men older than 50 years.
It grows very slowly and sometimes men are unaware they have the condition. Majority of patients with this type of cancer can live for years with no problems but in some cases, it may spread from the prostate to nearby lymph nodes, bones or other organs.
Prostate cancer treatment often depends on the stage of the cancer. Treatment may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or control of hormones that affect the cancer. Though not much is known about the causes of the disease, age, family history, environment, diet, hormone levels, and vasectomy are some of the risk factors.