Researchers say they now think they have discovered a way to detect prostate cancer earlier and more accurately. A protein called the early prostate cancer antigen, or EPCA can indicate the earliest changes that occur in cells during the development of cancer .
However specialists, says one of the problems with using PSA testing as an indictor of prostate cancer is that PSA levels often fluctuate. They say this makes it difficult for doctors to know for certain whether a man has prostate cancer without performing multiple needle biopsies.
Researchers say by testing for EPCA in men with high levels of PSA, one may be able to detect the presence of prostate cancer earlier, before it is discoverable by biopsy, saving patients the fear and stress of repeat procedures thus enabling doctors to treat the disease sooner .
The researchers compared non-diseased tissue samples to tissue samples from men with prostate cancer who initially tested negative for the disease. When they examined the initial negative biopsies, they discovered the presence of EPCA. In comparison, EPCA was not present in cancer-free men. They also found that EPCA was not only present in the tumor, but also throughout the prostate in men with prostate cancer.
However researchers say more studies need to be done to assess the usefulness of EPCA and its possible use as a biomarker for prostate cancer.