WEDNESDAY, Aug. 3 (HealthDay News) -- A new urine test might help doctors detect prostate cancer and better evaluate a patient's treatment options, researchers say.
"This is a tool that men and their physician can use to help them decide whether it's appropriate to get a biopsy now or delay that decision," said lead researcher Dr. Scott Tomlins, a pathology resident at the University of Michigan Health System.
The test looks for two genetic markers associated with prostate cancer. The first, called TMPRSS2:ERG, is caused by two genes changing places and fusing together; it is thought to cause prostate cancer. Since the gene fusion is only seen in about half of cancer patients, the test also looks for another marker, called PCA3.
"We are exploiting some new bio-markers to try to refine the PSA [prostate-specific antigen] test," Tomlins said.
The PSA test can indicate prostate cancer, but it is unreliable, often producing false positives and false negatives, Tomlins said. "You can have low PSA and have cancer, or high PSA and not have cancer," he said.
The two genetic markers may be more reliable indicators of prostate cancer, he said. One of them, TMPRSS2:ERG, is only seen in cancer, he added.
Together, they can be used "to stratify men into saying, 'You have a high chance of having cancer, and you should get a biopsy now, or if you are in a lower risk group you have a much lower risk of cancer and perhaps you could delay the biopsy,'" Tomlins said.
However, Tomlins cautioned that the test is not perfect. "It's hard to recommend that someone not get a biopsy, because there is always a chance you are going to miss a cancer that doesn't have either of these two markers," he said.
For the study, published in the Aug. 3 issue of Science Translational Medicine, Tomlins' team studied urine samples from 1,312 men who had high PSA levels and
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