Unlike PSA test, is ultra specific for prostate cancer
A new urine test for prostate cancer that measures minute fragments of RNA is now commercially available to men nationwide through the University of Michigan MLabs. The new test-Mi-Prostate Score (MiPS)-improves the utility of the PSA blood test, increases physicians' ability to pick out high-risk prostate tumors from low-risk tumors in patients, and may help tens of thousands of men avoid unnecessary biopsies.
The MiPS test incorporates blood PSA levels and two molecular RNA markers specific for prostate cancer in one final score that provides men and their doctors with a personalized prostate-cancer risk assessment.
Drawbacks of stand-alone PSA testing for prostate cancer
The prostate specific antigen (PSA) is a protein made by the prostate. For decades the PSA test has been used as a marker for the presence of prostate cancer in men-high or rising levels of PSA in blood may indicate the presence of a prostate tumor. However, the PSA test is a non-specific test for prostate cancer. That is, non-cancerous conditions such as an enlarged or inflamed prostate can cause elevations in PSA levels. And even when PSA levels rise above what has routinely been considered a trigger level (4.1 ng/ml in the blood) indicating the need for a needle biopsy to check prostate tissue for signs of cancer, less than half of those biopsies find cancerous cells. In addition, up to 44 percent of PSA-triggered biopsies find cancer cells that are non-lethal, indolent prostate cancer cells. Indolent prostate cancer is highly unlikely to shorten the lifespan of a man. However, treatment with surgery or radiation can carry significant risk of side effects such as incontinence or sexual dysfunction.
Improving upon the PSA test
The limited reliability of the PSA test, and its lack of specificity for prostate cancer, has led to sharp disagreement over the use of the PSA test as a routine health screening measure for men of a certain age. What everyone does agree upon is the need for better markers of prostate cancer. To date there are no perfect biomarkers that identify only high-risk prostate cancer. But each year progress is made toward such a goal. Today, the University of Michigan's Department of Pathology MLabs will begin offering the MiPS urine test that is ultra specific for prostate cancer. The MiPS test scans urine samples for two molecular markers that are distinct to prostate cancer. One marker is a snippet of RNA made from a gene (PCA3) that is overactive in 95 percent of all prostate cancers. The second marker is RNA that is made only when two genes (TMPRSS2 and ERG) abnormally fuse. The presence of this fusion RNA in a man's urine is ultra specific for prostate cancer.
An ultra-specific test for prostate cancer