Findings presented at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association (AUA) indicate that prostate cancer could be detected as many as five years earlier than it is currently being diagnosed by testing for a protein in tissue that indicates the presence of early disease. The University of Pittsburgh researchers suggest that testing for the protein, called early prostate cancer antigen (EPCA), could serve as an adjunct to the current diagnostic approach to patients with elevated levels of prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, who undergo repeat needle biopsies. PSA, a substance in the blood released by the prostate gland, is commonly used to check for signs of prostate cancer and other prostate problems. Results are published in abstract 640 of the AUA proceedings.
"One of the problems with testing for levels of PSA as an indicator of prostate cancer is that PSA levels often fluctuate, making it difficult to know for certain whether a man has prostate cancer without performing multiple biopsies over time," said Robert Getzenberg, Ph.D., senior author and professor of urology, pathology and pharmacology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "By testing for EPCA in men with high levels of PSA, we may be able to detect the presence of prostate cancer earlier, before it is discoverable by biopsy, saving patients the fear and stress of repeat procedures and enabling us to treat the disease sooner."
Dr. Getzenberg explained that EPCA is a marker protein that indicates the earliest changes that occur in cells during the development of cancer.
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