Prostate cancer: New test ‘transforms’ diagnosis and treatment – what is it?

Prostate cancer usually develops slowly, and the majority of cancerous cells will not develop to the point of needing treatment in a man’s lifetime. However, doctors struggle to predict which tumours will become aggressive, making it hard to decide on treatment for many men. A new revolutionary test can help ease the worry men have to deal with when awaiting results. The test diagnoses aggressive prostate cancer and whether patients will require treatment up to five years earlier than standard clinical methods.

Prostate cancer does not usually cause any symptoms until the cancer has grown large enough.

The most common symptoms of prostate cancer:

  • Needing to urinate more frequently
  • Blood in urine
  • Straining when you pee

An experimental new urine test, known as prostate urine risk (PUR), can reveal whether men with early prostate cancer will need aggressive therapy or can be left untreated but monitored, according to researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

With the current PSA blood tests this cannot be done, which means that many men experience unnecessary worry.

It is hoped that the breakthrough could help large numbers of men avoid an unnecessary initial biopsy and repeated invasive follow-ups for ‘low risk’ patients on active surveillance.

The test diagnoses aggressive prostate cancer and predicts whether patients will require treatment up to five years earlier than standard clinical methods. It also defines men who are up to eight times less likely to need treatment within five years of diagnosis.

Lead author Shea Connell from UEA’s Norwich Medical School said: “Current practice assesses a patient’s disease using a PSA blood test, prostate biopsy and MRI.

“But up to 75 per cent of men with a raised PSA level are negative for prostate cancer on biopsy.

“Meanwhile 15 per cent of patients who do not have a raised PSA are found to have prostate cancer with a further 15 per cent of these cancers being aggressive.”

Dr Mark Buzza, global director of biomedical research programs at the Movember Foundation, which funded the study, said: “The PUR test has enormous potential to transform the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer.”

The NHS explain prostate cancer risks, and said: “The chances of developing prostate cancer increase as you get older.

“Most cases develop in men aged 50 or older.

“Men whose father or brother were affected by prostate cancer are at slightly increased risk themselves.

“Recent research also suggests that obesity increases the risk of prostate cancer.”

You could have a higher risk of developing the condition if you’re over 50 years old, or have a family history of prostate cancer.

Obesity may increase your chances of the disease, while there is some evidence that a diet high in calcium could raise your risk.

Around 50,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed every year in the UK.

But 84 per cent of all patients live for at least another 10 years after their initial diagnosis, said Cancer Research UK.

One in eight men will be diagnosed with the disease, but if caught early enough recovery rates are high.

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