IsoPSA blood test could replace PSA for prostate cancer and mean fewer biopsies

A better way to diagnose prostate cancer with a simple blood test

The PSA test for prostate cancer has been highly criticized because it just doesn’t give enough information and can lead to unnecessary biopsy that can have side effects for men - some of which might not be reversible.

Now there is evidence that a test called the IsoPSA could replace the PSA test and reduce the need for prostate biopsy.

The finding, published online last month by European Urology, highlights research done by Cleveland Clinic, if validated, could mean men could breathe easier when it comes to worrying about prostate cancer.

Test uses traditional PSA information to make a better diagnosis

The test uses protein changes found in traditional PSA blood testing to detect prostate cancer in addition to whether a tumor is  high or low grade or even if a tumor is non-cancerous.

The finding was presented at the American Urological Association annual meeting, May 10, 2017.

PSA testing can detect levels of protein in the blood that could (but may not) mean prostate cancer.

The IsoPSA blood test looks at how the proteins are structured. Statistics show just 25 percent of men with elevated PSA actually have prostate cancer.

Prostate specific antigen testing (PSA) won’t uncover whether cancer is aggressive.

Dr. Klein, chair of Cleveland Clinic's Glickman Urological & Kidney Institute said in a media release:

"Unfortunately, PSA is tissue-specific but not cancer-specific, leading to overdiagnosis and overtreatment of biologically insignificant cancers, which is widely recognized as a key limitation in its clinical utility."

Risks of prostate tissue biopsy

Some risks associated with having a biopsy of the prostate gland include bleeding and infection and pain.

The test takes about 15 minutes Some men describe the sensation as someone “flicking” their perineal; rectal area.

The risk of infection has become more of a concern in recent years due to antibiotic resistance.

Studies ongoing

Studies are ongoing to prove the effectiveness of the new type of blood test for prostate cancer that, if validated, could also mean better surveillance after prostate cancer diagnosis.

The current study included six healthcare institutions and 132 men who were scheduled for prostate biopsy.

The researchers compared PSA to the IsoPSA test by confirming the results among men with high-grade cancer from those with low-grade disease and those who had benign disease, diagnosed with ultrasound-guided biopsy of the prostate.

"Due to its inherent simplicity, requiring only a blood draw and presenting information to the physician in familiar context using a single number - just like PSA itself - we are quite hopeful in IsoPSA's future utility after further validation studies," said Mark Stovsky, M.D., co-author of the study.

Until a more accurate blood test than the PSA is approved, biopsy is still the best option for prostate cancer diagnosis.