Dispatch: New Prostate Cancer Test

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A new urine test may detect prostate cancer better than current prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood tests and rectal exams, according to research presented Tuesday at the American Urological Association in San Francisco.

“Researchers found that the urine test — which looks for a string of RNA called PCA3 — had a specificity of 78 percent; i.e., 78 percent of men who tested abnormal actually had prostate cancer, whereas the PSA test has a specificity of just 21 percent,” says ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross. “The problem with the PSA test is that it catches a very high percentage of men who do not have dangerous prostate cancer, including men who have an inflamed prostate or indolent prostate cancer, which is not going to affect lifestyle or longevity. The goal is to avoid bringing people into treatment who are not at risk from prostate cancer, and the PSA test is a very blunt tool. These new results come from a large enough study that it makes me think a larger epidemiological investigation into the predictive power of the PCA3 test should be done.”