New Prostate Test Could Ease Convtroversy over Screenings
A new diagnostic test for men with high readings on an initial screening for prostate cancer has been approved, just weeks after an influential advisory group recommended all routine screening be dropped.
Makers of the new test, known as the prostate health index, or PHI, say it could ease the controversy that erupted over the recent recommendation by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
"They said PSA (the standard prostate screening test, for prostate-specific antigen) isn't the perfect test, and they're right," said Dr. Bernard Cook, global scientific affairs manager for Beckman Coulter, Inc., which developed the test based on research that originated at Baylor College of Medicine. "Because of confusion over what an elevated PSA means, men are over-diagnosed and over-treated. They said we need better information. I think that's what we have here."
A definitive cancer diagnosis still requires a biopsy, although researchers said the new test comes close.
And Dr. Gustavo Ayala, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, said the new test -- a blood test, like the standard PSA -- is a significant advance.
"PSA has its limitations. Although this is not a logarithmic improvement, it is definitely an improvement," he said. "We do not want to go back to when prostate cancer was diagnosed when it was not treatable."