Normally when men show symptoms of prostate cancer they go for blood tests known as a PSA test. Although mostly reliable, these tests can sometimes be inaccurate.
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that sits just below the bladder. It secretes substances that help nourish sperm and fluid for semen, contributes to the volume of ejaculate, and produces chemicals involved in male sexual function.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men worldwide. It can cause symptoms such as difficulty peeing or urinating (known as urinary dysfunction), pain or discomfort during sex (dysuria). As well as, blood in urine or semen (hematuria). Or even leaking urine when coughing or sneezing (stress urinary incontinence) and erectile dysfunction.
So we know it’s important to get tested when experiencing symptoms.
New blood tests show scientists are making breakthroughs that may make diagnosis much more accurate. This new method seems to be much more reliable in detecting prostate cancer cases with 91% accuracy. Another advantage is that, unlike PSA tests, these blood tests do not produce false positives.
Prostate biopsies are painful and can cause damage to the gland, so when they are unnecessary it’s best to avoid them. That goes for most surgical procedures.
Blood tests that detect changes in DNA
A blood test that detects changes in the DNA of prostate cancer tumors may be able to reduce the need for biopsies.
Researchers sometimes call these liquid biopsies. Since they don’t use a needle to take a tissue sample from the prostate itself, making it less invasive. In addition, tests of this nature could help identify patients who may not need treatment. This might be due to benign tumors or ones that grow very slowly.
Consequently, this would reduce the number of unnecessary surgeries, including ones that would remove the whole prostate.
So essentially, a liquid biopsy is a blood test used to detect cancer, similar to a PSA test but more accurate. In fact, it’s showing great promise in possibly being even more accurate than standard biopsies.
Identifying cases where men need a biopsy
It is important to find the right group of men who should have a biopsy rather than have a needle inserted into their gland to take out a small piece of prostate tissue.
The liquid biopsy is non-invasive, which means that it does not cause side effects like bleeding or infection. In addition, it is more accurate than the traditional method of taking samples with needles.
In fact, liquid biopsies can also help identify patients who don’t even need treatment. For example, due to very slow-growing tumors.
Check our resources section for further information. Where we can even help you connect with a prostate cancer survivor.
If you have any questions, or just want to talk, call us at our toll-free hotline: 1(833)HEAL-MEN. You are not alone in this journey. We are here to help guide and support you through it, every step of the way.
Or keep up to date with our virtual prostate cancer support group by following this link.