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Early detection of prostate cancer

by Medindia Content Team on  August 20, 2001 at 11:24 AM General Health News   - G J E 4
Early detection of prostate cancer
A new study, conducted by teams in Stockholm and Boston, looked at the relationship between prostate-specific antigen, or PSA (the chemical currently used as a 'marker' for prostate cancer progression), and two other blood proteins.
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It was found that men with prostate cancer who could not be detected by the PSA test could potentially be picked up by measuring levels of the two other proteins - called insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and insulin-like growth factor binding protein 3 (IGFBP-3). Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men over 55, but there is no single test that is sufficiently accurate to justify a program of screening all men in this age group.

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Current guidelines, set by the NH&MRC, advise that only men with symptoms (such as problems with urinating, or blood in the urine) be tested. The first stage of testing includes both a rectal examination and a blood test for PSA levels. A diagnosis of prostate cancer is then confirmed or excluded using a biopsy.

That same group of men, however, had other potential cancer indicators: their levels of the protein IGF-1 were higher than those of a similar group of men who were cancer-free, and their levels of IGFBP-3 were lower. Furthermore, while levels of IGF-1 were high for all men with prostate cancer, low levels of IGFBP-3 were found only in those with low PSA levels.

Low levels of IGFBP-3 and high levels of IGF-1, the researchers suggest, might therefore be used to design a more sensitive test for prostate cancer: one that would identify cases that would not be detected through a PSA test alone. Low levels of IGFBP-3 might also identify men at high risk of developing prostate cancer in the future.

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