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Test for early detection of prostate cancer shows promise

In the first clinical study of a new blood protein associated with prostate cancer, researchers have found that the marker, called EPCA or early prostate cancer antigen, can successfully detect prostate cancer in its earliest stages. At the same time, the marker successfully avoids the problem of false positive results that plagues prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing.

Study results appear in the May 15, 2005, issue of Cancer Research. The lead author is Robert H. Getzenberg, Ph.D., professor of urology and director of research at the James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute at Johns Hopkins.

The traditional two-step approach of PSA testing and digital rectal examination has helped doctors identify prostate tumors early, while the cancers can still be cured. But PSA testing, like many disease-screening procedures, misses some cases of cancer and in other cases erroneously highlights noncancerous conditions.

“This new blood test, when coupled with PSA screening, may help reduce the number of both unnecessary biopsies and undetected prostate tumors,?said Getzenberg, In addition to being highly sensitive to prostate cancer, the EPCA test is also very specific to it, meaning that other cancers and benign prostate conditions are not detected, thus boosting doctors?confidence that a positive EPCA test is really a sign of prostate cancer, added Getzenberg.

“Once this test is refined and approved for general use, it will have an impact on the detection and treatment of prostate cancer,?said Getzenberg.

For the current study, Getzenberg and colleagues developed a simple test that would detect EPCA in the blood and then measured the EPCA levels in 46 patients, including those with prostate cancer (12 patients), bladder cancer (six patients), colon cancer (two patients), kidney cancer (one patient), spinal cord injury (seven patients) and noncancerous prostate inflammation (two patients), and 16 healthy individuals. The study was cond
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Source:Johns Hopkins


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