Researchers from The Karolinska Institutet in Sweden in collaboration with Thermo Fisher Scientific have developed a new blood test for detecting prostate cancer. Their findings were recently published in the scientific journal The Lancet Oncology. Researchers claim their new blood test named “STHLM3” is more reliable at detecting aggressive prostate cancer earlier, reduces the number of false positives, and minimize the need for unnecessary biopsies. In order to develop a more accurate form of testing, the researchers worked by analyzing a combination of six protein markers, over 200 genetic markers and clinical data which include:age, family history and previous prostate biopsies.
Thermo Fisher Scientific provided researchers with The Karolinska Institutet the protein and genetic marker assays which were used in their clinical study. Current testing for prostate cancer relies mainly on measuring blood levels for a protein called prostate specific antigen (PSA). On PSA testing Dr. Henrik Grönberg Professor of Cancer Epidemiology at The Karolinska Institutet stated,
“PSA can’t distinguish between aggressive and benign cancer. Today, men who don’t have cancer or who have a form of cancer that doesn’t need treating must go through an unnecessary, painful and sometimes dangerous course of treatment. On top of this, PSA misses many aggressive cancers. We therefore decided to develop a more precise test that could potentially replace PSA.”
The clinical study was conducted between 2012 and 2014 and included nearly 60,000 men from Stockholm aged 50 to 69 years of age. Participants were given both the STHLM3 and PSA test and their results were later compared. Results showed that STHLM3 test results actually reduced the number of biopsies by 30 percent compared to the PSA test. Additionally, aggressive cancers were also found in patients whose PSA values were low (1-3 ng/ml) and often go undetected. The results of the clinical study look very promising and researchers hope that the test will lead to improving the detection of prostate cancer in patients. Dr. Grönberg sentiments also reiterated his hope stating,
“This is indeed promising results. If we can introduce a more accurate way of testing for prostate cancer, we’ll spare patients unnecessary suffering and save resources for society”
For more information on their research go to http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(15)00361-7.