New blood test could revolutionize prostate cancer diagnosis and reduce unnecessary biopsies
A new blood test developed in Alberta could change the way prostate cancer is diagnosed and treated.
Men showing high prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels, the standard screen for prostate cancer, traditionally undergo a biopsy to confirm the presence of cancer. But now, a new test could provide more clarity, possibly averting unnecessary biopsies.
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The ClarityDX Prostate test, the brainchild of the University of Alberta’s John Lewis and a product of U of A spinoff company Nanostics, claims to reduce unnecessary prostate biopsies, which are often invasive and uncomfortable. The technology measures levels of prostate cancer biomarkers in a patient’s blood sample, combines that data with their clinical information, then uses machine learning to generate a risk score that predicts the presence of clinically significant prostate cancer.
“This test will offer patients and their doctors more comprehensive data to decide the next steps,” said Lewis, who is also the CEO of Nanostics Inc. “It’s about ensuring that those who really need biopsies get them.”
In a recent publication, Lewis’s team shared results from an analysis of 415 men referred for biopsies between 2014 and 2017 due to high PSA results. The ClarityDX Prostate test could predict, with 95 percent accuracy, which patients had clinically significant prostate cancer. It concluded that 35 percent of these patients might not have required those biopsies at all.
Another study, yet unpublished, indicates that the test is three times more accurate than PSA in identifying clinically significant prostate cancer. If widely adopted, this could reduce unnecessary prostate cancer biopsies by up to 37 percent, thereby reducing redundant treatments.
Prostate cancer is the leading cancer diagnosis among Canadian men. One in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime with one in 29 dying from the disease, making it the third leading cause of cancer death for Canadian men, according to the Canadian Cancer Society.
The technology behind ClarityDX Prostate is also being adapted to predict bladder cancer, with the Lewis team optimistic about its potential applications in diagnosing other ailments, including cardiac and infectious diseases.
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