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Personalizing prostate cancer screenings
Date:4/24/2013

CHICAGO --- With the help of genetics, prostate specific antigen (PSA) screenings may become more accurate and reduce the number of unnecessary prostate biopsies, according to a new study from Northwestern Medicine.

Personalized PSA testing using genetic variants could account for an 18 percent reduction in the number of men who likely would have undergone unnecessary biopsies, according to the study. It will be published in the May 2013 issue of The Journal of Urology.

The high survival rate of men with prostate cancer is largely a reflection of PSA testing, but support for the widespread use of the screening method has been the topic of recent debate because of its limited specificity.

"By utilizing a person's genetic makeup we can personalize care when he comes in for a PSA screening," said Brian Helfand, M.D., lead author of the study. "We may be able to prevent some men from having an unnecessary biopsy and prevent a delay in biopsy for men who may have an aggressive disease."

Helfand is an adjunct assistant professor of cell and molecular biology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

For 98 percent of the men, genetic adjustment of PSA levels did not change the outcome of their screening. But genetic correction was important for the 17 men who were reclassified as no longer meeting biopsy criteria and the three whose condition was up classified, and it was recommended they get a biopsy, based on their genetic adjustment.

"If our results are validated, genetic adjustments could potentially prevent 15 to 20 percent of prostate biopsies," said William J. Catalona, M.D., senior author of the study. "Since it has been estimated that more than 1 million biopsies are performed in the United States annually, this could translate into 150,000 to 200,000 potentially unnecessary biopsies every year."

In addition to cost savings, fewer biopsies mean fewer adverse outcomes, such as
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Contact: Erin White
ewhite@northwestern.edu
847-491-4888
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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