Scientists recently developed a blood test that could replace biopsies in cancer diagnosis. The blood test looks for tumour cells circulating in the body to diagnose prostate cancer. The test, when combined with prostate-specific antigens (PSA), can help in diagnosing prostate cancer with 90% accuracy. The accuracy of the test supersedes all other types of biomarkers used for cancer diagnosis. Biomarkers for prostate cancer are subject to errors, but the new test uses fool-proof procedures.
Dr. Yong-Jie Lu believes that the new test could instate a paradigm shift in prostate cancer diagnosis. Lu is the senior study author, and a professor of molecular oncology at Barts Cancer Institute, London. He explains that cancer cells can disband from the original tumour to enter the blood stream. Hence, circulating tumour cells are a good indicator for the presence of cancerous tumours. Circulation of cancer cells through the blood stream could put other body parts at a risk of developing tumours.
Inaccuracy of PSA Test
The male prostate produces special proteins called prostate-specific antigens (PSAs). The presence of cancerous tumours in the prostate gland results in increased secretion of PSA in the blood. By this analogy, PSA level can help in diagnosing prostate cancer. However, the accuracy and authenticity of this test is highly contestable. This is because increased PSA secretion can also be a result of noncancerous prostate enlargement or inflammation. Therefore, medical experts mandatorily use biopsies for improved results in prostate cancer diagnosis.
Combining PSA Tests with New Methods
The invasive, dangerous, and risky nature of biopsies has raised concerns across the medical fraternity. Prostate tumours are often unaggressive, despite being cancerous. These tumours do not become fatal even if left untreated. Therefore, there is a need for a test that established a middle ground between inaccurate PSA testing and aggressive biopsies. Hence, the test develop by Lu and his team could be a viable option safe diagnosis.