Health

June 8, 2024

New saliva test for early prostate cancer detection

New saliva test for early prostate cancer detection

By Sola Ogundipe

A new study presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting suggests a simple at-home saliva test could revolutionize prostate cancer detection.

This test might be more accurate than the current standard blood test in identifying men at high risk, potentially saving thousands of lives glo.

Researchers from the Institute of Cancer Research, London, and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust believe a new saliva test could be a game-changer in the fight against prostate cancer. This simple, at-home test, presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting, has the potential to be “a cheap and easy-to-use alternative” for early detection.

The study, involving over 6,142 men aged 55-69, focused on a polygenic risk score based on genetic variations linked to prostate cancer. This allowed researchers to identify men with the highest risk (588 individuals) for further screening.

The hope is that this approach will not only lead to earlier detection in high-risk cases but also spare men with lower risk anxiety and potential side effects of unnecessary biopsies. This could “turn the tide on prostate cancer” by offering a more targeted and efficient screening method.

The new saliva test not only produces fewer false positives than the standard blood test but also appears to be better at detecting aggressive cancers. This is according to research presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting.

The current blood test, which measures prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels, can be misleading. Researchers found that only 25 percent of men with high PSA levels had prostate cancer. Furthermore, PSA tests can miss aggressive cancers and detect slow-growing ones that may never require treatment.

The saliva test, on the other hand, seems more accurate. In the study, 40 percent of men with high scores on the saliva test were diagnosed with prostate cancer after further investigation. This suggests the test may be better at identifying men who truly need treatment, potentially leading to earlier intervention for aggressive cancers.

In the view of Professor Kristian Helin, chief executive of ICR: “Cancers that are picked up early are much more likely to be curable, and with prostate cancer cases set to double by 2040, we must have a programme in place to diagnose the disease early.

“We know that the current PSA test can cause men to go through unnecessary treatments and, more worryingly, it’s missing men who do have cancer. We urgently need an improved test to screen for the disease.”