Research carried out by the University of California has suggested that testing for the prostate cancer gene PCA3 may improve the detection rates for the cancer.
While at present, the screening process for detecting the disease usually involves measuring for the presence of the protein PSA within the bloodstream, scientists have found that, in some cases, the biopsy results come back negative despite the patient having high levels of PSA.
Though PSA levels can be raised with benign prostrate disease as well as with malignant prostate disease, the researchers at the Los Angeles campus found that PCA3 would appear to be specific for prostate cancer.
Out of the 233 men studied by the team, 226 had sufficient amounts of genetic material within their urine to allow for a PCA3 analysis, with 60 of these being diagnosed with the cancer following a repeat biopsy.
Significantly, the PCA3 score was found to be more accurate in predicting the outcome of the repeat biopsy that the PSA test, with the study's leader Dr Leonard S Marks observing that these findings may limit the number of unnecessary medical procedure being carried out and reduce any anxiety suffered by patients.
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