There has been a breakthrough in prostate cancer screening which could allow doctors to diagnose the disease much earlier in some cases.
The current screening test for prostate cancer has traditionally been done with a blood test which measures a patient’s prostate specific antigen (PSA). While being useful, this test does not give doctors an entire overview of what is going on. At present one million men undergo a biopsy on their prostate each year with only one-fifth resulting in cancer being found and diagnosed.
The University of Michigan Health System has started to offer a different kind of urine test that they are calling Mi-Prostate Score, which is believed to improve prostate cancer screening. This new PSA test incorporates three separate identifiers that could indicate whether a person may have prostate cancer. So far studies have shown this combination of tests to be more effective than the standard PSA test 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 Scott Tomlins, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of pathology and urology at the University of Michigan.
2,000 urine samples were used in order for researches to validate this test, showing the Mi-Prostate score (MiPS) to be significantly more accurate for predicting cancer than the PSA test alone. It is also more effective at evaluating whether the cancer is likely to be an aggressive type that spreads and grows more quickly,
The Mi-Prostate Score came to be after the discovery in 2005 which identified an anomaly in genetics that was present in approximately fifty percent of all prostate cancers. It shows two genes changing positions and fusing with each other, known as T2:ERG. It is believed that this gene fusion is what causes prostate cancer, studies have shown it almost always indicates cancer is present.
The new Mi-Prostate Score not only looks for gene fusion but also a second marker known as PCA3; combined with the serum PSA measure produces a much more reliable risk assessment of cancer and the likelihood of whether it will be aggressive. The test is available to all but requires a doctor’s request, as with most tests of this nature.
According to the American Cancer Society 235,590 Americans will be diagnosed with cancer with almost 30,000 not surviving this disease, so any test which can improve early detection is a great breakthrough.