A new blood test for prostate cancer is found to have a 94 per cent accuracy rate, is quick, affordable and minimally intrusive ,according to the results of a recent pilot study.
These results, published in the journal Cancers, combined a chromosonal test with the currently used prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test and the results they found surprised them and could have huge implications for cancer tests undertaken by a private oncologist.
The team at Oxford BioDynamics, along with Imperial College and the University of East Anglia, have argued that this could fundamentally change how prostate cancer is diagnosed and help to keep people safer.
They have argued that the current primary test used by the NHS that relies on detecting PSA as the first step of its process is not accurate enough and can cause unnecessary distress and pain in the process.
The current test sometimes causes erroneous results, which can either create a false reassurance that stops people from being treated early when more options are available, or create a false positive that leads to more intrusive tests such as biopsies being undertaken, as well as considerable mental distress.
As there is no single test, the PSA blood test is the start of a diagnosis process that includes physical tests, MRI scans and biopsies.
There is also currently no routine screening programme akin to the pap smear test due to the unreliable results, which itself delays patients looking for treatment and could narrow the window between diagnosis and the widest options for treatment.
The pilot study tested 147 patients, all of which had prostate cancer, and the results were found to be 94 per cent accurate, far closer to the range that would make it viable for routine use, particularly since prostate cancer is so common and develops so slowly.
Wider tests will confirm whether or not the test is accurate on a larger scale.