How Patient Weight Can Skew Prostate Cancer Screening Efforts
New research from the University of Adelaide in South Australia has revealed one of the most common cancer screening tests for prostate cancer, looking for elevated levels of prostate-specific antigen in the bloodstream, can be skewed by the weight of the patient being screened.
Obesity’s Role in Skewing Screening Results
University researchers found that in addition to the many increased health risks already associated with obesity, male patients with a Body Mass Index of 30 or higher tend to have a naturally lower amount of prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, than leaner men. The difference was attributed to a lower concentration of circulating testosterone, which is responsible for the amount of PSA in the bloodstream.
The research study’s definitive findings could, therefore, pave the way to discovering elevated PSA thresholds for men of different body types that would be more accurate, therefore leading to better early diagnosis and treatment efforts.
Accurate Across All Body Types
Research has shown that elevated PSA levels can be used as an early-warning indicator for possible prostate problems in the future. Monitoring PSA levels in the blood, and then performing additional testing if these PSA levels meet a threshold that’s determined to be elevated, can be an invaluable tool for early detection and treatment — but only if these “elevated” levels are accurate across all body types.
Professor Gary Wittert, project supervisor and Adelaide Medical School director at the university, remarked in a press release that the implications of the study are important, especially with 65% of the male population of Australia obese or overweight. While the professor further said that more clinical studies will have to be undertaken in order to apply this knowledge in a practical setting, it will lead to new methods for interpreting PSA levels for obese patients.