In a study published in the April issue of the journal Urology, Getzenberg and a team of Hopkins researchers introduce evidence in support of EPCA-2 testing as a more accurate way to identify cancer in the prostate.
Current standards of screening and testing for prostate cancer focus on the blood protein prostate-specific antigen (PSA) along with a digital rectal examination.
?A blood test based on EPCA-2 may greatly improve our ability to accurately detect prostate cancer early and minimize the number of false positives, therefore lowering the number of unnecessary biopsies,? says Getzenberg. ?In addition, this is the first time we have a test that effectively distinguishes between men with cancer confined to the prostate and those whose disease has spread outside of the gland.?
Results of the study also revealed that EPCA-2 levels were significantly higher in patients whose cancers had spread outside the prostate compared to those with disease confided to the gland. EPCA-2 was dramatically better at separating these groups than were PSA levels, according to Getzenberg.
?This is important, since cancer that has spread outside the prostate is more deadly, which makes it even more crucial to have a tool that detects it early,? says Getzenberg.
EPCA-2 is the second prostate-cancer marker identified by Getzenberg and his team that has outperformed PSA. Last year, they discovered an unrelated, tissue-based test, EPCA-1, that also proved effective at identifying prostate cancer. The only commonality between these markers is that they were discovered using the same approach. Getzenberg says the efficacy of EPCA-1 as a test of biopsy samples is currently being evaluated.
Prostate cancer is a disease in which cells in the prostate gland become abnormal and start to grow uncontrollably, forming tumors. Prostate cancer is a malignancy of one of the major male sex glands. Along with the testicles and the seminal vesicles, the prostate secretes the fluid that makes up semen.