Prostate cancer can be accurately detected by a new blood test

Prostate cancer can be detected by a new blood test which also reveals the severity of the disease with 99 per cent accuracy

  • Around 12,000 British men will die from prostate cancer in the UK this year. 
  • Scientists currently use a test which is flawed and needs a biopsy to confirm 
  • However some men who do not have symptoms are forced to go for a biopsy 
  • The new test would catch these cases and slash the amount of men needing invasive biopsies by 70 per cent  

Scientists have created a blood test which diagnoses prostate cancer and identifies what stage the disease is at with 99 per cent accuracy.  

Nottingham Trent University medics and clinicians developed the method in a bid to reduce invasive biopsies needed to confirm prostate cancer.  

Scientists believe around 12,000 British men will die from prostate cancer in the UK this year. 

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Scientists believe around 12,000 British men will die from prostate cancer in the UK this year. Nottingham Trent University medics and clinicians developed a blood test in a bid to reduce invasive procedures needed to confirm prostate cancer(stock)

Building on previous work the scientists found changes in the immune system can be identified in the blood of a patient.

The signals for the cancer are identified predominantly due to alterations in the white blood cells.

After blood is extracted, computers analyse the sample for signs of the disease and categorise it as either low, intermediate or high-risk.

These methods are 99 per cent accurate, according to the researchers who created the test.

Current blood tests for prostate cancer look for an elevated level of a ‘prostate specific antigen’ (PSA) and if the test is positive then a patient is sent for a biopsy.  

Prostate death rates are expected to fall this year because of better diagnosis and treatment, research suggests.

British death rates will be 9.5 per cent lower for 2020 than in 2015, according to a study.

Scientists at the University of Milan, who assessed prostate cancer fatalities across the EU, said improved diagnosis and interventions are behind the shift.

They forecast there will be 11.99 such deaths per 100,000 men this year in the UK, against 13.25 in 2015. 

Across the EU there will be a 7 per cent drop, according to projections published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The number of prostate deaths in the UK has increased in recent years – partly due to the growing population. 

But even with the number of people increasing, the cut in fatality rates will equate to a plateau in the total death figures, the research suggests.

However, this method can be flawed as not all patients have elevated PSA levels, and some men who do not have the cancer have naturally high PSA levels. 

This leads to either unnecessary investigations or missed diagnoses. 

The new method would be administered to men who received a positive diagnosis from the PSA test and benefit men who are showing no symptoms but have a slightly elevated PSA level. 

‘New interventions for more accurately detecting the presence of prostate cancer are urgently needed,’ said Professor Graham Pockley, Director of Nottingham Trent University’s John van Geest Cancer Research Centre. 

‘Our approach not only identifies presence of the disease, but also – crucially – its clinical significance. 

‘We can also do this with higher accuracy than current approaches. 

‘This will spare men from having unnecessary invasive procedures and help clinicians to decide whether to ‘watch’ or ‘actively manage’ patients, even when they are asymptomatic but have mildly higher PSA levels.

‘Due to the reduction in unnecessary biopsies, this would also result in significant savings for the NHS.’

Professor Masood Khan, consultant urologist at University Hospitals Leicester NHS Trust and Visiting Professor at Nottingham Trent University, said: ‘Improving our ability to detect men harbouring clinically significant prostate cancer will not only reduce the burden on the NHS but also avoid the unnecessary psychological impact of being diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer.’

The research is published in the journal eLife.  

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