A new blood test with the capability to make prostate cancer diagnoses more accurate was recently introduced, lessening the likelihood of false positives and subsequent unneeded biopsies.
According to an August 5 Fox News article, the blood test, called the Prostate Health Index (PHI) test, uses three prostate-specific indicators to make testing for this type of cancer more accurate.
The test comes as a welcome improvement to prostate cancer diagnosis at a time when the cancer is becoming more abundant. The current test doctors use to diagnose prostate cancer, the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test, is prone to falsely diagnose patients who don’t actually have cancer, Fox News reports.
According to an August 5 Fox 8 article, approximately one in seven American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetimes. One in 35 will die from the cancer. It’s unclear just how many of these diagnoses are errant or inaccurate.
The PSA test’s inaccuracies stem from the fact that it measures an antigen that isn’t specific to prostate cancer, according to the Fox News article. Levels of the PSA can be elevated as a result of infection, taking certain medications and can be higher depending on one’s race and age. For example, African-Americans tend to have a higher PSA level than whites, and older men tend to have higher PSA levels than younger men.
The PHI test’s evaluation of three separate PSA markers proves to help reduce the frequency of false positives in the diagnostic process. By distinguishing prostate cancer from other non-cancerous prostate disorders, millions of men will likely not need to undergo biopsies resulting from inaccurate diagnoses.