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Is There a Prostate Cancer Urine Test?

written by: Lashan Clarke • edited by: Emma Lloyd • updated: 7/12/2010

The main tests for prostate cancer usually involve the digital rectal examination and the PSA blood test. The digital rectal exam involves feeling the prostate through the rectum to discover if it is enlarged. A prostate cancer urine test is currently being tested to detect PCA3 levels.

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    Introduction To The Prostate

    The prostate is a small round organ inside of men located below the bladder. The prostate duct opens into the urethra of the bladder, and any chemical produced by the prostate can be detected in the urine. If the prostate is enlarged naturally as in benign prostatic hyperplasia or as a result of prostate cancer, this might decrease the flow of urine. A man might say to his doctor that he has problem urinating after the enlarged prostate blocks the urethra. The main function of the prostate is to produce semen for the sperm secreted by the testes.

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    Current Tests For Prostate Cancer

    The main tests for prostate cancer usually involve the digital rectal examination and the PSA blood test. The digital rectal exam involves feeling the prostate through the rectum to discover if it is enlarged. The PSA test is a blood test used to detect the level of prostate specific antigen (PSA). Prostate cells that have become enlarged produce this chemical. It is possible that the enlargement is due to cancerous cells and the PSA value may be elevated when someone has prostate cancer. However, even in benign or non-cancerous conditions the PSA may be elevated.

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    The PCA3 Urine Test

    The urine test was designed by Gen-Probe Inc, and the test is called the Progensa PCA3 test. The test is used to detect the level of a certain cancer cell antigen within the urine of men who might be suspected of having prostate cancer.

    What the PCA3 test does is a urine sample is collected from a man, and used to detect if PCA3 is present. PCA3 is also specific to the prostate and is released in prostate cancer. This chemical is type of genetic material called RNA, and when the level of it was increased within the urine, it might indicate enlargement of the prostate due to cancer. Recent studies carried out showed that at least 70 to 80 percent of the men with prostate cancer also had an increase in PCA3 above the normal level of 20-25 mmol. This group of men first was diagnosed with enlarged prostates and/or abnormal PSA results.

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    The Benefit Of The Prostate Cancer Urine Test

    The excitement of using this new prostate cancer urine test is seen when combined with the PSA test, it can give a much more accurate diagnosis as compared to just using the PSA test. Even though it is used in areas outside of the United States, physicians have also found that it can be used before a biopsy is ordered. Therefore if the level of this prostate cancer urine test is not elevated, this may help a man from receiving a painful or unnecessary biopsy, while improving the accuracy of diagnosis.

    There is currently a prostate cancer urine test that has been developed and used within the United Kingdom and Europe in 2006, but it is waiting for approval in the United States.

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    References

    Web Source: MedPage Today, LLC. "Novel Urine Test IDs Prostate Cancer." 2010. Available: http://www.medpagetoday.com/MeetingCoverage/ASCOGU/18812

    Web Source: Thomson Reuters. "Urine test improves prostate diagnosis: study." 2010. Available: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6505ZS20100601