A New Blood Test That Could Help People At Risk of Cancer Avoid Unnecessary Biopsy

A New Blood Test That Could Help People At Risk of Cancer Avoid Unnecessary Biopsy

A new blood test that looks for circulating tumor cells could significantly improve the diagnosis of prostate cancer and avoid unnecessary biopsies and treatments.

A new blood test could help many people at risk of prostate cancer avoid unnecessary biopsies.

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

This level of accuracy is higher than that of any other biomarker for prostate cancer, says senior and corresponding study author Dr. Yong-Jie Lu, a professor of molecular oncology at the Barts Cancer Institute of Queen Mary University of London in the United Kingdom.

“This could lead to a paradigm shift in the way we diagnose prostate cancer,” he adds.

Circulating tumor cells are cancer cells that have left the original tumor and entered the bloodstream. Once cancer cells are in the bloodstream, they can spread to other parts of the body.

PSA test not enough to diagnose cancer

PSA is a protein that the prostate produces. If there is cancer in the prostate, the gland releases more PSA into the blood. Therefore, raised levels of PSA in the blood can be a sign of prostate cancer.

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

So, to confirm the presence of cancer, the individual undergoes a biopsy, an uncomfortable procedure in which the surgeon removes pieces of the prostate and sends them for tissue analysis.

A biopsy of the prostate is not only invasive but also risky, with a high chance of bleeding and infection.

Also, the biopsy results of most men with raised PSA levels show that they do not have cancer.

Even 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.