According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men, next to only skin cancer. Detection of some cancers at an early stage can help cure them more easily. A pioneer in developing clinical diagnostic products and advanced laboratory equipment, Beckman Coulter Diagnostics recently announced the availability of a Prostate Health Index (phi), a simple, non-invasive blood test for detecting prostate cancer. According to the Beckman Coulter U.S. Prostate Cancer Pivotal Study Report, the phi test is three times more accurate in detecting prostate cancer than PSA (prostate-specific antigen). PSA tests can have abnormal results, leading some men to have a biopsy to detect cancer. With its greater specificity, the phi test reduces the need for a biopsy among men who test positive for elevated PSA levels.
In a press release announcing its availability in the U.S., John Blackwood, senior vice president, Chemistry/Immunoassay Business Unit, Beckman Coulter Diagnostics said that the new blood test was the result of years of collaboration with some of the world’s leading prostate cancer researchers and medical institutions that analyzed the scientific and clinical benefits of phi.
Why the PSA test is not Reliable
PSA is a protein that is naturally produced by the prostate gland and high PSA levels are typically associated with cancer. Early detection of prostate cancer is possible by testing the level of PSA or with a digital rectal exam (DRE). However, neither of these tests are 100% accurate, producing confusion among physicians and anxiety among patients. High levels of PSA may be caused by a benign enlargement of the prostate and not due to the presence of cancer. However, false-positive results may lead physicians to recommend a biopsy, with risks of infection, pain and bleeding.
PHI – An Evidence Based Test for Cancer Management
Unlike the PSA test which produces false-positives, the phi test helps differentiate prostate cancer from benign conditions. Utilizing three different PSA markers (PSA, freePSA and p2PSA) as part of a sophisticated algorithm, the new test determines the probability of cancer in patients with elevated PSA levels more reliably. Thus, the phi test helps avoid the need for invasive biopsies that have an increased potential for patient harm, according to expert urologist William Catalona, MD, the principal investigator of Prostate Health Index clinical study. The study found that using the phi test reduced the rate of unnecessary biopsies due to false-positives by 31 percent. The simplicity of this blood test makes it very appealing to patients.
The phi test is available to physicians across the U.S. through Innovative Diagnostics Laboratory (IDL), a national clinical reference laboratory that specializes in personalized blood-based testing to detect, evaluate and treat cancer.