A new, highly accurate prostate cancer test has been developed 

A new, highly accurate prostate cancer test has been developed
© shutterstock/Shidlovski

Researchers have developed a new prostate cancer test, which can detect the disease more accurately than current methods. 

Research showed that the prostate cancer test EpiSwitch (PSE) is 94% accurate, which is higher than the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test which is currently used. Researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA) say that the new prostate cancer test has the potential as an accurate and rapid cancer screening diagnostic. 

The new prostate cancer test was developed by Oxford Biodynamics in collaboration with UEA, Imperial College London and Imperial College NHS Trust 

Prostate cancer can be difficult to detect

The causes of prostate cancer are largely unknown; however, certain factors can increase the risk of developing the condition. Most cases of prostate cancer develop in men over the age of 50 and for reasons which are not yet understood, prostate cancer is more common in black men and less common in Asian men. 

Furthermore, men whose male relatives were affected by prostate cancer have an increased risk of developing the disease themselves. Research has also suggested that obesity can increase the risk of prostate cancer.  

“Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and kills one man every 45 minutes in the UK. There is currently no single test for prostate cancer, but PSA blood tests are among the most used, alongside physical examinations, MRI scans and biopsies,” said Professor Dmitry Pshezhetskiy, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School. 

Traditional prostate cancer tests can miss the disease

PSA blood tests are not routinely used to screen prostate cancer, as results can often be unreliable. Of all individuals who have a prostate biopsy due to an elevated PSA level, only around one-quarter have prostate cancer. Therefore, the development of new prostate cancer blood tests, with more accuracy, has been a priority for researchers in recent years.   

In a pilot study involving 147 patients, the research team evaluated the efficacy new PSE test. The test combined the traditional PSA test with the epigenetic EpiSwitch test. The researchers found that PSE significantly enhanced overall detection accuracy for at-risk men. 

“When tested in the context of screening a population at risk, the PSE test yields a rapid and minimally invasive prostate cancer diagnosis with impressive performance. This suggests a real benefit for both diagnostic and screening purposes,” said Professor Pshezhetskiy. 

“There is a clear need in everyday clinical practice for a highly accurate blood test that can screen men for prostate cancer and accurately identify those at risk while sparing those who up to now would be subject to unnecessary, expensive and invasive procedures,” said Dr Jon Burrows, Chief Executive Officer at Oxford Biodynamics. 

“This is another example of how our product portfolio can contribute to reducing the total cost of care for global health,” he concluded.

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