Reduction of prostate cancer biopsies may be the benefit of a new blood test

The diagnosis of prostate cancer could be significantly improved with a new blood test that looks for circulating tumor cells. Unnecessary biopsies and treatments could also be avoided.

According to a recent study, combining the new test with prostate specific antigen (PSA) results can yield a diagnosis of aggressive prostate cancer that is more than 90% accurate.

This level of accuracy is higher than that of any other biomarker for prostate cancer, according to the study author, who says it could lead to a paradigm shift in the way prostate cancer is diagnosed.

PSA test not enough to diagnose cancer

The prostate produces a protein called PSA. When there is cancer in the prostate, the gland releases more PSA into the blood, and therefore, raised levels of PSA in the blood can be a sign of prostate cancer.

Unfortunately, other prostate conditions, such as inflammation or noncancerous enlargement of the gland, can also raise PSA levels.

In order to confirm the presence of cancer, the patient undergoes a biopsy, which is an uncomfortable procedure where the surgeon removes pieces of the prostate and sends them for tissue analysis.

A biopsy of the prostate is not only invasive but can also have risks such as infection and a high chance of bleeding. And the biopsy results of most men with raised PSA levels come back saying that they do not have cancer.

And when prostate biopsies do reveal the presence of cancer, in most cases, the tumor is not aggressive and will not be fatal if doctors leave it untreated.

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