Prostate cancer test cuts biopsies

The first molecular test specific to prostate cancer could reduce the number of unnecessary biopsies, a leading urologist has claimed.

Professor Roger Kirby, of the London Prostate Cancer Treatment Centre, said that there was 'a clear need' for an additional diagnostic test for prostate cancer.

Currently, only the PSA test is available for the detection of prostate cancer.

But the PSA test is inaccurate and insensitive because levels are elevated in benign prostatic hypertrophy and prostatitis.

Consequently, the test is associated with a high number of false-positive results with many men receiving unnecessary biopsies.

The latest test, known as PCA3, aims to reduce the number of false-positive results.

The test involves measuring the levels of expression of the PCA3 gene found in urine samples taken from patients.

Levels of the PCA3 gene are around 60 times higher in men with prostate cancer than in healthy men.

But despite the greater accuracy of the PCA3 test, which is currently the subject of a technology appraisal by NICE, it will not be used as an alternative to the PSA test.

'It is too expensive to be used instead of PSA tests,' said Professor Kirby.

The biggest benefit of the test is to reduce the number of unnecessary biopsies performed on patients who have a positive PSA result, said Professor Kirby.

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