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

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

Font Size

New Blood Test for Prostate Cancer

Experimental Test Detects Prostate Cancer, Tells Whether It Is Spreading
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

April 26, 2007 -- An experimental blood test for prostate cancer seems to work better than the current PSA test -- and can tell whether the cancer is spreading.

The new test looks for a protein called EPCA-2 -- or early prostate cancer antigen 2. Unlike the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) protein on which the current PSA test is based, this protein isn't found in normal prostate cells. Instead, EPCA-2 occurs in relatively large amounts only in prostate cancer cells.

The test is being developed by Robert H. Getzenberg, PhD, director of urology research at Johns Hopkins University's Brady Urological Institute. Getzenberg began the work while still at the University of Pittsburgh; the test has been licensed to the Seattle biotech firm Onconome Inc.

"We wanted to find something that really identified people with prostate cancer and not people with enlarged or infected prostates," Getzenberg tells WebMD. "This is as close to cancer specific as we could find. We found it is very unique. It is 97% specific, meaning that if you test positive there's only a 3% chance you don't have prostate cancer."

Getzenberg has a financial interest in the test. But experts who do not stand to gain from the test agree that it has enormous potential.

Otis Brawley, MD, chief of the solid tumor service at Emory University's Winship Cancer Institute, calls the test "important" and predicts it will be widely used.

Charles A. Coltman Jr., MD, associate chairman for cancer control and prevention at San Antonio's Southwest Oncology Group, calls the findings "striking" and "remarkable," although he warns that the test has been tried out on only a small number of patients.

Ganesh Palapattu, MD, assistant professor of urology at the University of Rochester, agrees that more studies must be done. But he tells WebMD that the test is a big step toward the "Holy Grail of prostate cancer detection: not so much identifying men with prostate cancer, but identifying men with prostate cancer who have aggressive disease."

"This not only helps tell whether you have prostate cancer, but what kind of prostate cancer you have," Getzenberg says.

Getzenberg and colleagues report early studies of the EPCA-2 test in the April issue of the journal Urology.

Today on WebMD

man with doctor
Symptoms, risks, treatments
man coughing
Men shouldn’t ignore
prostate cancer cells
What does this diagnosis mean?
doctor and male patient
Is it worth it?
cancer fighting foods
15 Cancer Symptoms Men Ignore
Prostate Enlarged
Picture Of The Prostate
Prostate Cancer Quiz
screening tests for men
Prostate Cancer Symptoms
Vitamin D