We don’t have a national prostate cancer screening program in Australia like we do for early detection of cancers of the bowel, breast or cervix.
The closest thing we have is a blood test to measure prostate specific antigen (PSA). PSA is secreted by both cancerous and non-cancerous cells in the prostate, so further investigations are required for confirmation and diagnosis of prostate cancer. Health professionals agree that PSA testing is not suitable for widespread population-based screening on its own.
Researchers have now developed tests based on measurement of hundreds of small molecules in tiny vesicles that are secreted by prostate cancer cells into the urine. By analysing the levels of these small molecules from a urine sample, these tests can not only identify whether cancer is present, but also identify the stage of cancer.
The tests are straightforward to perform but rely on cutting edge scientific knowledge, technology and computational capabilities.