Recent controversy surrounding the use of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) as an effective cancer screening test has continued to grow. The PSA test measures the levels of PSA in the blood, but oftentimes can be elevated in benign disease. This benign disease commonly referred to in the medical community as Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) generally represents a condition that does not need aggressive treatment. Careful consideration should be given when evaluating treatment options due to the limitations of this test.
Today it is widely accepted in the healthcare community that prostate cancer is being over treated. In 2014, the Canadian Health Authority task force on Preventative Health Care recommended against screening for PSA in men younger than 55 or older than 70. Furthermore, in light of nominal increased survival rates for men ages 55-70 who were screened, it relaxed the guidelines for routine screening of men in that age group. For men 55-70, the small reduction in prostate cancer deaths does not justify the larger risk of potentially harmful side effects of treatment.
Currently, the only accurate diagnosis of prostate cancer hinges on biopsies by detecting cancer cells that are found in the tissue harvested directly from the prostate. Stage I Diagnostics has correlated data that suggests we have identified genes that express proteins only in potential metastatic prostate disease. Based on peer reviewed data, we clearly and consistently identify a protein only expressed in the potential metastatic disease process. This type II transmembrane serine protease, Hepsin, is currently undergoing clinical trials in partnership with one of the foremost cancer research centers in the world. This simple blood test is designed to detect and measure the levels of Hepsin protein in the blood. Research conducted and published by Dr. Timothy O’Brien from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences revealed that this is the same protein involved in the growth and spread of ovarian cancer. Our Hepsin test is being utilized to help determine if a prostate cancer patient is a good candidate for active surveillance, as opposed to more aggressive treatments. Ultimately, we feel our panel of tests, along with Hepsin, will be able to determine if aggressive prostate cancer is developing at the earliest stages of the disease. At Stage I Diagnostics, we are working diligently to improve the standard of care for prostate cancer patients by reducing unnecessary procedures and costs through better diagnosis of the disease.