Movember is a moustache growing movement geared toward bringing awareness for men’s health issues in the month of November. The Movember Foundation helps fund over 1,000 projects for improving men’s health problems, including prostate cancer.
In the U.S., there will be an estimated 220,800 new prostate cancer cases and 25,540 prostate cancer-related deaths in 2015, according to the American Cancer Society. Overall, prostate cancer is considered to be the second most common cancer around the world. There were more than 1.2 million prostate cases diagnosed in 2012.
It is generally recommended that men older than 50 get annual prostate exams in order to rule out prostate cancer. The most common screening test for prostate cancer is a digital rectal examination and a blood test for prostate-specific antigens (PSA). Screening is sometimes done earlier in men with a family history of prostate cancer.
In a new study published in the journal The Lancet Oncology, researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have discovered a new prostate cancer test that can better detect aggressive cancer earlier than a PSA. It could also lower the amount of unnecessary biopsies and false positive tests.
“PSA can’t distinguish between aggressive and benign cancer,” explains lead study author Dr. Henrik Gronberg, who is a professor of cancer epidemiology at Karolinska Institutet. “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 new prostate cancer detection blood test is called the STHLM3 test. It analyzes over 200 genetic markers, a combination of six protein biomarkers, and clinical data that includes family history, age, and previous prostate biopsies. The STHLM3 test combines the plasma protein biomarkers—free PSA, PSA, hK2, intact PSA, M1C1, and MSMB.
The Karolinska Institutet researchers developed the STHLM3 test in conjunction with the biotechnology product development company called Thermo Fisher Scientific. The biotech company provided the genetic marker and protein assays for the clinical trial.
For the study, 58,818 men from Stockholm were included in the trial between 2012 and 2014. The men were without prostate cancer and between the ages of 50 and 69 years old. The PSA and STHLM3 tests were performed on all study participants before being compared. The results found that the STHLM3 test decreased the amount of biopsies by 30%. The test also found aggressive prostate cancers with low PSA values. These are cancers that often go undetected. The STHLM3 test didn’t compromise patient safety.
The STHLM3 test will be available in Sweden by March of 2016. The research team is now set to validate their results in other ethnic groups and countries. The Stockholm County Council funded the study.
Prostate cancer can be indicated if a person experiences certain symptoms. In this case, it is best to connect your doctor immediately. The most common prostate cancer symptoms include difficulty urinating, frequently urinating at night, interrupted or weak urine flow, burning or painful urination, problems with painful ejaculation or having an erection, blood found in the semen or urine, and frequent stiffness or pain in the person’s upper thighs, hips, or lower back.
Sources for Today’s Article:
Gronberg, H., et al., “Prostate cancer screening in men aged 50-69 (STHLM3): a prospective population-based diagnostic study,” The Lancet Oncology, 2015; doi: 10.1016/S1470-2045(15)00361-7.
“New test for prostate cancer significantly improves screening,” Karolinska Institutet web site, November 10, 2015; http://ki.se/en/news/new-test-for-prostate-cancer-significantly-improves-screening.
Murray, M., N.D., et al, The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine: Third Edition (New York: First Atria Paperback, 2012), 903-923.
“Cancer Facts & Figures 2015,” American Cancer Society web site, http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@editorial/documents/document/acspc-044552.pdf, last accessed November 10, 2015.