Any man who's been through a prostate biopsy will tell you it's not a pleasant experience. Now a new technique could lead to a better blood test for prostate cancer and eliminate the need for unnecessary biopsies for many men.
Bob Miles has had three biopsies of his prostate after blood tests revealed elevated levels of PSA -- a protein that when elevated indicates the possibility of prostate cancer. "Every time they take a section through the prostate the needle clicks, You hear it, and then you feel the stab of pain," says Bob Miles.
Miles says it's an unpleasant experience, but says it's nothing compared to the pain of watching his father die from prostate cancer. "For me, that was an enormous incentive to go through the experience," he says.
All of Miles' biopsies were negative. And they're negative for as many as 75 percent of men who have them.
Now, instead of having to go through the pain of a biopsy, patients may only have to have a blood test to rule out cancer.What this new test does is looks at thousands of proteins at the same time rather than just the one protein and looks at the pattern of those proteins.
In a study, the new test accurately detected cancer 100 percent of the time. It correctly ruled it out in about 65 percent of cases where the PSA level was high enough to warrant a biopsy.
Miles hopes the test will help men like him avoid future biopsies.Researchers say larger clinical trials are still needed before the test is available to doctors and their patients.