A more accurate test that screens for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in the bloodstream can help reduce the need for prostate biopsies, according to emergent research.
Why Reducing Biopsy Dependency is Important
Contemporary PSA tests can help in early detection of prostate health problems, as higher levels of prostate-specific antigen found in the bloodstream above a specific threshold is a strong indicator of a number of prostate-specific issues. However, because high PSA levels can be caused by other issues such as benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) or even very slow-growing prostate cancers as well as aggressive tumors, a PSA test may need to be accompanied by a prostate biopsy to further identify the culprit.
The problem with having to rely on biopsy is that this procedure can cause not just pain and discomfort but also side effects such as bleeding and erectile dysfunction. Subjecting a patient to a biopsy only to discover they have BPH means the biopsy was ultimately unnecessary — and so was exposing the patient to those possible side effects as well.
Using 4K Tests to Reduce Reliance on Biopsies
With the above in mind, reducing reliance on biopsy as a diagnostic tool is an important goal. This has prompted scientists and researchers to find ways to fine-tune PSA screening to provide more accurate information. One way to do so has been developed recently known as the 4-Kallikrein (4K) test, which relies on testing for the existence of four separate biomarkers.
This information, combined with the data from a digital rectal exam, the age of the patient, and data from any previous biopsies, is then analyzed using a complex algorithm to determine the likelihood that a patient’s high PSA levels are a result of aggressive cancer or a less dangerous condition like BPH.
Saving Men from Unnecessary Procedures
4K test scoring has proven to be quite accurate in a number of recent studies. In fact, scientists say that 4k testing is accurate enough to determine 20-year risk rates for developing cancer from high PSA levels. A 4K test result of 7.5 percent, for example, represents only a less than 2 percent chance of being diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer even if a regular PSA test is high enough to normally necessitate a more invasive physical test like a biopsy. Incorporating 4k testing can, therefore, reduce the chances of men from having to undergo painful biopsy procedures in the future.