Genetic Predictors of PSA Levels Could Boost Reliability of PSA Tests to Diagnose Prostate Cancer

Genetic Predictors of PSA Levels Could Boost Reliability of PSA Tests to Diagnose Prostate Cancer
Unravelling genetic predictors that determine a man's natural PSA levels could help enhance the sensitivity and specificity of PSA tests as a tool for diagnosing prostate cancer, according to a recent study. Researchers at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) were able to identify genetic variations that explain up to 41 percent of PSA variation, suggesting that this  information could aid in improving prostate cancer screening. The study, "Genome-wide association study of prostate-specific antigen levels identifies novel loci independent of prostate cancer," appeared in Nature Communications. Although PSA tests have been used for more than 20 years to detect and observe prostate cancer, recent studies have shown that the test frequently leads to false positives and unnecessary treatment, and false negatives that give men a false sense of security. As a result, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force advised against the use of PSA tests as a diagnostic tool for prostate cancer in 2012. That led to a drop in clinicians'  use of this test. "In the few years that PSA testing has become less popular, the use of the test has declined and the number of prostate cancer diagnoses has dropped," John Witte, PhD, a UCSF professor of epidemiology and urology, and co-senior author of the new study, said in a press release. "Disturbingly, some of the cases that are detected are now being diagnosed at a later stage, making successful t
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