New Blood Test for Prostate Cancer
Experimental Test Detects Prostate Cancer, Tells Whether It Is Spreading
EPCA-2 Test Beats PSA continued...
Both in terms of detecting cancer when it was actually there (sensitivity),
and in terms of not detecting cancer when it wasn't actually there
(specificity), the EPCA-2 test beat the PSA test.
More importantly, it beat the PSA test in predicting whether prostate cancer
already had spread outside the prostate gland. When that has happened, standard
treatments for prostate cancer -- radical prostatectomy (surgery to remove the
prostate) and brachytherapy (tiny radioactive seeds implanted in the prostate)
-- fail to cure.
"I predict that within the next year, this test is going to be widely
used to find the guy who has prostate cancer and who, if he got radical
prostatectomy, would relapse very quickly," Brawley tells WebMD. "It is
going to say to this guy, 'Skip the unnecessary surgery and get pelvic
radiation and hormone treatment now.'"
Getzenberg says it will be at least two years before the test is "out on
the street" with FDA approval. All of the experts who spoke to WebMD agree
that large-scale screening tests will be needed before it's known exactly how
well the test works.
"What we really need to know is how this test behaves in all comers --
when we don't already know whether the men being tested have prostate
cancer," Palapattu says. "It would also be important to identify men
with high risk of prostate cancer vs. low risk of prostate cancer, and to test
men after prostate surgery to see whether it can predict cancer
When -- and if -- the EPCA-2 test is approved, men will still need better
prostate cancer tests.
"At least a third, maybe two-thirds of guys with localized disease have
cancer that will never leave the prostate and never bother them," Brawley
says. "This new test is not going to help those guys who get treated for
prostate cancer but shouldn't. I hope there will be help for these men