A DNA (spit) test for prostate cancer is being developed by a group of international scientists based at the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London. The trial was tested on 300 men from three London GP surgeries.
The purpose of the test is to detect men’s risk of developing prostate cancer and searches for high-risk genes which are believed to affect one out of every 100 men.
Currently, there is no reliable or accurate test for prostate cancer. The methods used to test for the condition are physical examinations, biopsies and the Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test.
However, PSA tests are known to be inaccurate, missing serious cases of prostate cancer or even gives false-positives.
Ros Eeles, professor of oncogenetics at the ICR, said this advanced study was “very significant”.
“By looking at the DNA code of tens of thousands of men in more depth than ever before, we have uncovered vital new information about the genetic factors that can predispose someone to prostate cancer, and, crucially, we have shown that information from more than 150 genetic variants can now be combined to provide a readout of a man’s inherited risk of prostate cancer.”
Dr Iain Frame, director of research at Prostate Cancer UK said: “This new research could help men to understand their individual genetic risk of prostate cancer, which could prompt them to speak to their GP about the disease. ”
“Given that one in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, we urgently need more accurate diagnostic tests which are suitable for use in a nationwide screening programme,” he added.
By next year, the trial will be expanded to 5,000 men.
The study has been published in the Nature Genetics. It was funded by the the National Cancer Institute in the US as well as Prostate Cancer UK, Cancer Research UK and the European Research Council.