- Prostate cancer is most common among UK men with 50,000 diagnosed a year
- Study published in Journal of Clinical Investigation offers hope of a blood test
- At present the cancer is diagnosed through physical examinations
A new blood test for prostate cancer promises to help monitor patients without an invasive procedure, rapidly revealing whether a sufferer needs urgent treatment.
The most common cancer among men in the UK, with 50,000 cases a year, is currently diagnosed and monitored through physical inspections.
But a study, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation from scientists at University College London (UCL), now claims it can diagnose metastatic prostate cancer – the most dangerous stage of the disease – through a blood test.
The test could detect prostate cancer in its most dangerous stage. It was developed by scientists at University College London (UCL) (stock picture)
The team took blood samples from 25 cancer patients and four healthy volunteers in order to compare a chemical reaction known as DNA methylation – a chemical change in DNA molecules that affects how genes work.
They then studied changes in DNA fragments in the blood plasma and found thousands of changes in genes specific to the prostate gland.
The novel technique is now heading for clinic trials in patients as scientists work to establish the effectiveness of the technique.
Lead author Dr Anjui Wu, at UCL, said: ‘Metastatic prostate cancer – the most dangerous late stage of the disease – can vary substantially in its treatment response and clinical progression.
‘We urgently need biomarkers that will help us determine how far along each patient’s cancer is, to determine the best course of treatment.
‘With tumour biopsies difficult to obtain, being able to identify prostate cancer DNA signatures at the earliest opportunity in blood, will help monitor patients better and assist more effective treatment selection and combination.’
Team took blood samples from 25 cancer patients and four healthy volunteers to develop the test. It is now going for human trials (stock picture)
Professor Gert Attard, also of UCL, said: ‘We believe the increased sensitivity and additional information we derive (in human trials) will significantly improve the outcomes of men with advanced prostate cancer.’
Professor Mark Emberton added: ‘The field of liquid biopsies has shown great potential recently to improve the diagnosis and management of cancer patients.
‘This test could be the first to tell us cancer has got into blood before the spread is large enough to see on imaging.
‘This could allow targeting of treatment for men at the highest risk of prostate cancer spread.’