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Thursday
Aug042011

New Urine Test for Prostate Cancer

Getty Images(ANN ARBOR, Mich) -- A new urine test might help doctors detect prostate cancer and better evaluate a patient's treatment options, researchers say.

"This is a tool that men and their physician can use to help them decide whether it's appropriate to get a biopsy now or delay that decision," said lead researcher Dr. Scott Tomlins, a pathology resident at the University of Michigan Health System.

The test looks for two genetic markers associated with prostate cancer. Together, they can be used "to stratify men into saying, 'You have a high chance of having cancer, and you should get a biopsy now, or if you are in a lower risk group you have a much lower risk of cancer and perhaps you could delay the biopsy,'" Tomlins said.

Tomlins cautions that the test is not perfect, however, because “it’s hard to recommend that someone not get a biopsy because there is always a change you are going to miss a cancer that doesn’t have either of these two markers.”

The study, published in the August 3 issue of Science Translational Medicine, tested urine samples from 1,312 men who had high PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) levels and had a prostate biopsy or surgery to remove the prostate.

The researchers focused on looking for the two markers and used them to separate the men into high, intermediate or low-risk groups for prostate cancer anc compared these results with the results from biopsies.

Based on the biopsies, cancer was found in 69% of the men in the high-risk group, 43% of those in the intermediate risk group, and 21% of men in the low risk group.

One limitation of the study is that most patients were Caucasian, so further studies are needed to see whether the findings extend to all men, the researchers noted.

The test is not yet available to the public, but Tomlins said it will soon be offered at the University of Michigan.

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