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Semen Test can be Effective in Detecting Prostate Cancer

Update Date: Jun 09, 2014 12:04 PM EDT

Prostate cancer is cancer that develops in the tissues of the prostate, which is a gland that is located below the bladder and in front of the rectum of a male's reproductive system. It is the most common cancer diagnosed in men. Prostate cancer is often detected using a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test, which is not always effective in detecting cancer cells. In a new study, researchers used male patients' semen to help detect prostate cancer with relatively good accuracy.

"Biomarkers that can accurately detect prostate cancer at an early stage and identify aggressive tumors are urgently needed to improve patient care," stated the study's lead author Dr. Luke Selth, a Young Investigator of the Prostate Cancer Foundation in the U.S., reported by Medical News Today.

For this study, the researchers recruited 60 men and collected their seminal fluids. In the samples, the team identified microRNAs that helped them detect prostate cancer. Elevated levels of microRNAs indicated prostate cancer. The team also discovered that one particular microRNA, called miR-200b helped differentiate between high grade and low-grade tumors.

"This is important because, as a potential prognostic tool, it will help to indicate the urgency and type of treatment required," explained Dr. Selth.

The researchers stated that finding an accurate prostate cancer test can helped prevent over-diagnosis and overtreatment, which could result from the PSA test.

"While it is highly specific for tissue of prostatic origin, PSA is not cancer-specific, resulting in many unnecessary biopsies of benign disease. Moreover, PSA screening has resulted in substantial over-diagnosis and over-treatment of indolent tumors without having a significant effect on prostate cancer mortality," the researchers wrote.

The study, "Human seminal fluid as a source of prostate cancer specific microRNA biomarkers," was published in the journal, Endocrine-Related Cancer.

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