Good News for Early Prostate Detection

Earlier this week, researchers led by the University of Colorado School of Medicine reported that a urine test can detect signs of prostate cancer better than a blood test measuring levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) alone, the currently used method.

Because prostate tumours are extremely slow growing, the likelihood of actually succumbing to this disease later in life is low. According to the American Cancer Society, 90 per cent of all prostate cancers are found while they are still within the prostate itself or only in nearby areas, and the five-year relative survival rate for these men is nearly 100 per cent. That said, more than one million men in the United States alone were treated for prostate tumours that were far from life threatening.

With the new urine test, called Progensa, men with elevated PSAs and an abnormal digital rectal exam will be measured for elevated levels of PCA3, a genetic, seemingly benign material that has been found in prostate cancer patients. The test will hopefully help patients avoid the pain and potential inaccuracies of biopsies or unnecessary treatments, such as radiation, or surgeries. Used together with the PSA test, adding Progensa to the diagnostic mix can potentially create a powerful combination in early detection and proper treatment of prostate cancer.