Alert
Close

Join the Drive to End Hunger! Watch the NASCAR race on Sunday at Kansas Speedway.

HIGHLIGHTS

Open
10,000 Games Galore Sweepstakes from AARP
Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

AUTO BUYING PROGRAM

AARP Auto Buying Program

Download the ipad App

AARP-iPad-ePub-app

DRIVER SAFETY

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

Contests and
Sweeps

Safe Driving in 2014 Sweepstakes

Learn how AARP Driver Safety can help you stay safe—and enter for a chance to win $1,000. See official rules. 

KEEP BRAIN ACTIVE!

AARP Games - Play Now!

AARP BOOKS

Planning for Long-Term Care for Dummies

Get expert advice on planning for your own or a relative’s future care needs.

Webinars

Learn From the Experts

Sign up now for an upcoming webinar or find materials from a past session.

Learning centers

Get smart strategies for managing health conditions.

 

Arthritis

Heart Disease

Diabetes

Most Popular

Viewed

Nothing has been viewed

share your thoughts

What does the health care law mean to you? Your story is important. We read and learn from every story and it helps us in our educational efforts. We may even use your comments (with permission) to brief legislators, inspire readers and more. Please share your story with us. Do

Health Discovery

New Test for Prostate Cancer Proposed

Study suggests a way to refine current PSA tests

In a large-scale clinical trial, a new version of the PSA test used to screen prostate cancer was better able to detect an aggressive form of the disease, as well as substantially reduce false positives.

See also: When to treat prostate cancer.

William J. Catalona, M.D., considered the father of the original PSA test and director of the clinical prostate cancer program at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, says the new test will identify more life-threatening prostate cancers and reduce needless biopsies in men age 50 and older to rule out cancer.

doctor looks at PSA test for prostate cancer study

Doctors say new prostate cancer test will reduce needless biopsies in men age 50 plus. — Heath Korvola/Getty Images

Other experts caution the test doesn't give information valuable enough to prevent unnecessary treatment.

The test for total prostate specific antigen (PSA) often returns false-positive results, and even after a biopsy confirms cancer, many men have surgery or radiation to treat slow-growing tumors that are unlikely to kill them.

The new screening test weighs a specific PSA subform called Pro-PSA, which is higher in patients who have prostate cancer, against total PSA and free-circulating PSA, which may be elevated in patients with benign prostate enlargement instead of cancer.

PSA by the numbers

Prostate cancer is unlikely when total PSA is less than 2 nanograms per milliliter, and very likely when greater than 10 ng/ml, Catalona says, so the 2-to-10 range is a "gray area" where biopsies are usually ordered — yet only about a quarter of those men will be diagnosed with cancer.

The test for total prostate specific antigen (PSA) often returns false-positive results, and even after a biopsy confirms cancer, many men have surgery or radiation to treat slow-growing tumors that are unlikely to kill them.

In a new paper published in the Journal of Urology, Catalona and 16 colleagues administered the Pro-PSA test to nearly 900 men from 10 sites, including Northwestern, whose total PSA fell in the 2-to-10 range. The new test did a better job than the earlier version of predicting who had cancer, they found. A higher score on the Pro-PSA also meant a man was more likely to have an aggressive form of cancer.

Medical manufacturer Beckman Coulter, which developed the Pro-PSA test, has asked the Food and Drug Administration to approve it for men age 50 or older whose total PSA values are between 2 and 10 ng/ml. Beckman Coulter, for which Catalona serves as an unpaid consultant, supported the costs of conducting the research.

When deciding whether a man should get a biopsy right away or just monitor his total PSA levels, "the Pro-PSA test would provide a more accurate discriminator of whether he has cancer … so it's better than anything that's out there," Catalona says.

Next: Test may not help patients avoid biopsies. >>

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Reading eyeglasses eyemed 6 membership benefit health

Members save 25% on orders of $200 or more and get 25% off lens upgrades at glasses.com.

AARP/Walgreens Wellness Bus Stops in Clarksdale, MS

Members can get exclusive points offers from Walgreens and Duane Reade.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points