New studies of a blood protein recently identified at Johns Hopkins, early prostate cancer antigen-2 (EPCA-2), may change the way men are screened for prostate cancer — a disease that kills over 27,000 men every year.
Current standards of screening and testing for prostate cancer focus on the blood protein prostate-specific antigen (PSA) along with a digital rectal examination. Men who have more than 2.5 nanograms per milliliter of PSA are considered at risk for prostate cancer.
However, PSA testing often erroneously highlights noncancerous conditions (false positives) and can miss some cases of prostate cancer (false negatives), according to Robert H. Getzenberg, Ph.D., professor of urology and director of research at the James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Due to elevated PSA levels, approximately 1.6 million men undergo prostatic biopsies in the United States annually. Of this group. roughly 80 percent of these men have negative results, according to Dr. Getzenberg, while 20 percent are found to have prostate cancer.
In a study published in the April 2007 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 prostate cancer within the prostate.
“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 prostate cancer has spread outside of the gland.”
For a video of Dr. Getzenberg discussing EPCA-2 and prostate cancer diagnosis, click on this link: