A research team from Sweden and North America proved that a screening process based on PSA levels can accurately predict the development of prostate cancer way before the problem is detected. The method specifically predicts lethal versions of prostate cancer in men that are between 45 and 59 years old. Mark A. Preston, from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, is the lead author of the study that was published on-line by the Journal of Clinical Oncology on June 13, 2016.

The Prostate-specific antigen, known as PSA, is a protein that is exclusively produced by cells in the prostate gland. The team led by Preston studied the PSA levels in a group of men from the United States between the ages of 40 and 59. The researchers wanted to see if it was possible to determine whether a man would develop prostate cancer in the future based on his PSA levels. The quantity of the antigen is easily measurable via blood sample.

Prostate cancer detected with screenings
A recent study proved that a screening process based on PSA levels can accurately predict the development of prostate cancer way before the problem is detected. Credit: Blog.mymsaa.org

The research team used the information previously gathered by the Physicians’ Health Study. In those trials, there were 22,071 U.S. physicians involved in a cohort that started in 1982, and they all followed up the medical history of male patients for almost three decades. The subjects of the study were separated into three different groups according to their ages: 40 to 49; 50 to 54; and, 55 to 59.

The importance of an early diagnose

Preston and his colleagues managed to determine a PSA baseline which they would use to compare the participants information. After that, they discovered that a total of 82% of the men aged 40 to 49 developed a lethal form of prostate cancer. The result was similar for the other two age groups with statistics of 71% and 86% for the second and third group respectively. It is crucial to note the study only focused on a specific demographic sector, men aged 40 to 59, and therefore the information presented in the paper should not be used to address any other case that does not match the criteria.

“PSA levels in midlife strongly predict future lethal PCa in a US cohort subject to opportunistic screening. Risk-stratified screening on the basis of midlife PSA should be considered in men age 45 to 59 years,” reads the paper published on-line in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

According to WEBMD, most prostate cancer cases are diagnosed in men that are around 70 years old, and only 1 out of 36 dies from it. The life expectancy is five years after the problem is detected, but according to the organization, a third of prostate cases are discovered after the person has died in an autopsy.

In spite of that, Dr. Preston said the PSA method he and his team studied can predict fatal cases, the ones that are more aggressive. The team says that more men should go through a PSA test when they become 40 years old to detect possible prostate cancers in the future. This could help doctors around the world to help their patients by taking preemptive measures that could solve the problem before it comes.

Source: UpToDate