A simple blood test taken for middle-aged American males could help predict your risk of contracting prostate cancer, says a new study that was conducted at Harvard University.
PSA tests (prostate specific antigen) are accurate enough now to predict whether or not an adult male is at-risk for contracting this deadly disease later in life. The new study shows that these tests are not as error-prone as previous thought to be, with an accuracy rating of around 75%.
In the past, PSA tests have been lambasted due to false positives. The tests have been in use for about 25 years, however, and this new study helps bring them back into the mix for doctors.
For the study, Harvard researchers examined the medical data for men in their 40s, and compared whether not this PSA test would be accurate in determining real risk for contracting the disease.
"Our study does not imply prostate biopsy or definitive treatment is immediately required in younger men with higher PSA levels at baseline, as this could lead to over diagnosis," the researchers wrote in a press release. "Rather, these men should undergo more intensive PSA screening to enable earlier identification of cancer and potential cure while still possible."
The study compared data of 945 men, amongst which 232 contracted the disease, as compared to 711 of them who did not. The research indicated that 71 of the men developed a fatal version of the disease.
Men who had PSA levels from the test showing they were above the median and considered at-risk had an 82% chance of developing the disease. Whereas men who registered a PSA level beneath the median were far less likely to contract the cancer.
The full study was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology,
What does this mean?
Basically, a blood test called a PSA test, when taken in your 40s, is highly accurate at predicting whether or not you are at severe risk for contracting prostate cancer. If you do test above the median, it means that you have early warning information that you can use to follow through with the proper screenings that can give you 100% accurate information.
Moreover, it means that you can better detect this disease with a high accuracy marker from a blood test, and take measures to treat it in the earliest stages, if necessary, when it's the most treatable. And that's a really good thing.