New Test Detects Prostate Cancer More Accurately

Pro-PSA test improves prostate cancer screening

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) A large clinical trial has demonstrated a new screening for prostate cancer that's more accurate than the tests currently available. In research conducted by Northwestern Medicine, the new PSA test reduced the number of false positives and pinpointed prostate cancer more precisely, particularly the aggressive form of the disease.

“This new test is more specific and accurate than the currently available blood tests for early prostate cancer detection,” said lead investigator William Catalona, M.D., Director of the clinical prostate cancer program at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. 

“This will focus on the detection of more life-threatening prostate cancers and reduce unnecessary biopsies in men 50 years of age and older,” he said.

"New PSA test more reliable in accurately diagnosing early prostate cancer."

The new Pro-PSA test was recently approved for commercial use in Europe, Dr. Catalona noted. “The FDA is currently reviewing our data from the study, and I’m hopeful that it will be approved in the United States as well,” he said.

A pioneer in the field, Dr. Catalona was the first to show in 1991 that a simple blood test measuring PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels could be used to detect prostate cancer.

Elevated PSA can indicate not just prostate cancer, but prostate inflammation or enlargement or other conditions. The lack of specificity (identifying the specific cause) in current testing can result in unnecessary biopsies.

In Depth

  • The study, which will be published in the May issue of the Journal of Urology, followed 900 patients from 10 sites.
  • The results showed a simple blood test called the Pro-PSA test, is particularly useful for patients with a normal prostate exam whose PSA is 2 to 10, a range considered the diagnostic gray zone because most men with higher levels have prostate cancer and most men with lower levels do not.
  • The Pro-PSA test measures a more specific PSA subform called (-2) Pro-PSA. The test becomes even more accurate when its results are analyzed with a mathematical formula that provides an overall Prostate Health Index. (The formula divides the Pro-PSA number by the free-PSA. Then the quotient of the two is multiplied by the square root of the total PSA.)
  • “The logic behind the formula is that the higher the Pro-PSA and the total PSA and the lower the free-PSA, the more likely the patient has aggressive prostate cancer,” Dr. Catalona said.

According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men other than skin cancer. Latest statistics estimated nearly 218,000 new cases of prostate cancer for 2010 and 32,050 deaths from the disease. There are more than 2 million prostate cancer survivors in the United States.

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind only lung cancer.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 15, 2011
Last Updated:
April 19, 2011