Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Men's Health

Font Size

Better Prostate Cancer Screening Test May Be on Horizon

WebMD Health News

Dec. 6, 2000 -- A man's PSA level -- how much prostate specific antigen he has in his blood -- has long been considered the best indicator of whether he has, or is likely to get, prostate cancer. But now there is evidence that screening for additional molecules could make the test even more sensitive.

Swedish researchers comparing newly-diagnosed patients with healthy men found that blood levels of certain growth factors were linked to prostate cancer.

Alicja Wolk, PhD, an associate professor in the department of medical epidemiology at Stockholm's Karolinska Institute, was inspired to take a closer look at these growth factors and their connection to prostate cancer when some of her earlier findings contradicted those of another research team.

In her study, published in the Dec. 2, 2000 issue of The Lancet, blood was collected and analyzed from about 200 men with newly-diagnosed, but not yet treated, prostate cancer. Their results were then matched with those from healthy men of the same age.

Wolk and colleagues looked at the effect of growth factors in patients with different PSA levels. They found that certain growth factors were increased while others were decreased in men with prostate cancer. But more importantly, they found that these growth factors were associated with a higher risk of prostate cancer even when PSA levels were normal.

What all this means, says Wolk, is that growth factor screening may better identify high-risk patients before they develop cancer, and before subjecting them to biopsies or other invasive tests. For example if a man has a normal or low PSA level but specific growth factor levels, his doctor may decide to test him further. Also, Wolk says, his doctor may take precautions such as more frequent screening tests.

But according to H. Ballentine Carter, MD, a growth factor researcher not involved in this particular study, "although these are interesting findings and it's worth investigating further, the data are insufficient to suggest that [growth factor] screening would be useful." It could even be argued, he tells WebMD, that having cancer causes the change in growth factor levels, and not the other way around. Carter is professor of urology and oncology at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md.

Today on WebMD

man coughing
Men shouldn’t ignore.
man swinging in hammock
And how to get out it.
shaving tools
On your shaving skills.
muscular man flexing
Four facts that matter.
Food Men 10 Foods Boost Male Health
Thoughtful man sitting on bed
Man taking blood pressure
doctor holding syringe
Condom Quiz
man running
older couple in bed