London: Scientists have created a blood test that diagnoses prostate cancer and identifies what stage the disease is at with 99 percent accuracy. Nottingham Trent University medics and clinicians developed the method in a bid to reduce invasive biopsies needed to confirm prostate cancer.
Scientists believe around 12,000 British men will die from prostate cancer in the UK this year. Building on previous work the scientists found changes in the immune system can be identified in the blood of a patient. The signals for the cancer are identified predominantly due to alterations in the white blood cells.
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After blood is extracted, computers analyze the sample for signs of the disease and categorize it as either low, intermediate, or high-risk. These methods are 99 percent accurate, according to the researchers who created the test. Current blood tests for prostate cancer look for an elevated level of a ‘prostate-specific antigen’ (PSA) and if the test is positive then a patient is sent for a biopsy.
However, this method can be flawed as not all patients have elevated PSA levels, and some men who do not have cancer have naturally high PSA levels. This leads to either unnecessary investigations or missed diagnoses. The new method would be administered to men who received a positive diagnosis from the PSA test and benefit men who are showing no symptoms but have a slightly elevated PSA level.
‘New interventions for more accurately detecting the presence of prostate cancer are urgently needed,’ said Professor Graham Pockley, Director of Nottingham Trent University’s John van Geest Cancer Research Centre. ‘Our approach not only identifies the presence of the disease but also – crucially – its clinical significance. ‘We can also do this with higher accuracy than current approaches.
‘This will spare men from having unnecessary invasive procedures and help clinicians to decide whether to ‘watch’ or ‘actively manage’ patients, even when they are asymptomatic but have mildly higher PSA levels. ‘Due to the reduction in unnecessary biopsies, this would also result in significant savings for the NHS.’
Professor Masood Khan, the consultant urologist at University Hospitals Leicester NHS Trust and Visiting Professor at Nottingham Trent University, said: ‘Improving our ability to detect men harboring clinically significant prostate cancer will not only reduce the burden on the NHS but also avoid the unnecessary psychological impact of being diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer.’ The research is published in the journal eLife.
Prostate cancer death rates are predicted to fall this year by 9.5%
Prostate death rates are expected to fall this year because of better diagnosis and treatment, research suggests. British death rates will be 9.5 percent lower for 2020 than in 2015, according to a study. Scientists at the University of Milan, who assessed prostate cancer fatalities across the EU, said improved diagnosis and interventions are behind the shift.
They forecast there will be 11.99 such deaths per 100,000 men this year in the UK, against 13.25 in 2015. Across the EU there will be a 7 percent drop, according to projections published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The number of prostate deaths in the UK has increased in recent years – partly due to the growing population.
But even with the number of people increasing, the cut in fatality rates will equate to a plateau in the total death figures, the research suggests.