New blood test can detect prostate cancer with 94% accuracy, researchers say

Researchers say the tests currently used in the NHS can lead to “false reassurance in some men with cancer”.

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A new blood test for prostate cancer has been developed by researchers which they say has 94% accuracy.

Oxford BioDynamics, in collaboration with Imperial College and the University of East Anglia (UEA), found that when combining the test with a standard prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, more cases could be detected.

The team said the PSA tests currently used in the NHS are not sufficiently accurate. As a result, there have been numerous unnecessary prostate biopsies in men with no cancer and “false reassurance in some men with cancer”.

Dr Jon Burrows, chief executive at Oxford Biodynamics, said: “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.”

Publishing their findings in the journal Cancers, the researchers developed a new chromosomal test which can pick up signals of cancer and combined it with the regular PSA test.

A pilot study of 147 patients evaluated the new test, called PSE, and found it significantly improved the detection of the disease. All the men in the study had prostate cancer and the test was 94% accurate.

The next stage of research will be to use the test on a group of men where the cancer status is unknown. The team wrote: “This new PSE test is accurate, rapid, minimally invasive and inexpensive. If successful in larger trials, it may significantly improve prostate cancer diagnosis.”

Professor Dmitry Pshezhetskiy, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “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.

“However, PSA blood tests are not routinely used to screen for prostate cancer, as results can be unreliable.

“Only about a quarter of people who have a prostate biopsy due to an elevated PSA level are found to have prostate cancer. There has therefore been a drive to create a new blood test with greater accuracy.

“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.”

Prostate cancer can develop when cells start to grow in an uncontrolled way, according to Prostate Cancer UK. It grows slowly and is the most common cancer in men.

Across the UK, more than 52,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year on average, and one in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.

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