March 5, 2021

Experts develop a non-invasive test for prostate cancer

Scientists at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center developed a way to detect prostate cancer non-invasively through urine, according to a study published in the journal “Nature Scientific Reports.”

This research analyzed the urine of 126 people, including patients with prostate cancer, benign prostatic hyperplasia, diseases associated with prostatitis and healthy individuals through RNA sequencing and mass spectrometry.

“A simple and non-invasive urinalysis for prostate cancer would be an important step forward in the diagnosis,” said the center’s assistant professor and principal investigator of the study, Ranjan Perera, in a statement.

Prostate is the most common type of cancer among American men behind skin cancer.

The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2020 there will be 191,930 cases of prostate cancer and about 33,330 people will die from this disease.

In addition, one in nine men is diagnosed at some time in their life, being more common among men over 65 and blacks, although more than 3.1 million people survive after diagnosis.

However, for patients to survive, early detection is key since it allows a greater number of options throughout the treatment, so this new discovery would be very useful for this.

Normally, patients first undergo a blood test to determine the level of prostate specific antigen (PSA), which is a protein produced by normal cells as well as by malignant cells of the prostate gland.

If the results offer abnormal levels of this protein, the doctor should perform a digital examination of the rectum to determine if the patient has developed prostate cancer, although experts say they are not always reliable.

“Tissue biopsies are invasive and notoriously difficult because they often overlook cancer cells, and existing tests, such as sustained PSA elevation, are not very useful in identifying cancer,” Perera said.

The scientists specified that it is necessary to conduct larger studies before this analysis is ready for clinical use, since, although researchers discovered specific changes in the RNA and urinary meabolites of patients, it must be confirmed in a group larger.

“If they are confirmed in a larger and separate group of patients, they will allow us to develop a urine test for prostate cancer in the future,” said another of the study’s researchers, Bongyong Lee.


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