Things You Should Know About Prostate Cancer
For US men, prostate cancer is the most common non-cutaneous cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death. About one man in 9 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.
Estimated for 2019:
About 1 man in 9 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime1
About 60% of prostate cancer cases are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older1
Nearly 3 million men in the US are believed to be currently living with prostate cancer1
Cancer screening for most men may begin at ages 45 to 50, or earlier for higher-risk men
Cancer cells grow slowly and generally stay within the prostate without spreading to other parts of the body. It is the most common type of prostate cancer and with this cancer, most men live normal full lives without treatment. Prostate cancer that remains localized in the prostate has a greater than 99% 5-year survival rate.
Characterized by fast-growing cancer cells that spread to other areas of the body. This type of prostate cancer can be lethal, but is generally treatable if diagnosed early. The 5-year survival rate, once it has spread outside the prostate, is around 30%.
Screening age-appropriate men for prostate cancer usually begins with a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test. Considerations when selecting men for screening include age, family history, race, genetic risk, and other findings that may indicate a higher or lower risk of prostate cancer.
An estimated 20 million PSA tests are performed annually in the US, and while PSA is an effective initial screening test for prostate cancer, it poses significant diagnostic challenges.
PSA test results may be abnormal for a number of reasons not related to prostate cancer, including prostate infection, inflammation, or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which is a common condition found in older men. As a result, many prostate biopsies performed due to an elevated PSA find no prostate cancer. In addition, PSA is a poor differentiator between indolent prostate cancer, which does not require further treatment, and aggressive, high-grade cancer, which requires early detection to prevent metastasis and mortality.
Because of PSA’s lack of specificity for differentiating aggressive prostate cancer from indolent or no cancer, many men undergo prostate biopsies that could be avoided. With close to a million prostate biopsies performed in the US annually, approximately 75% will result in diagnosing indolent prostate cancer or no cancer at all.
The goal for physicians is to diagnose aggressive prostate cancer as early as possible, when treatment is most effective. The 4Kscore® Test is a blood test developed to improve patient care by providing a man’s risk for aggressive prostate cancer after an abnormal PSA or other screening result, and prior to making a prostate biopsy shared decision. 4Kscore® provides physicians and patients with highly accurate, actionable information to make better-informed clinical decisions.
The 4Kscore® Test:
A conclusive diagnosis of aggressive prostate cancer is made through a prostate biopsy, which in most cases examines 10 or more prostate tissue “cores” usually taken through the rectum or perineum. Prostate biopsies are guided by an ultrasound, MRI, or a combination of these modalities. Tissue specimens obtained are reviewed by a pathologist to determine if prostate cancer is present and then to grade the cancer with a Gleason score. A Gleason 6 or lower is generally considered low grade, while Gleason 7-10 are high-grade cancers.
The prostate biopsy procedure has its limitations. Pathologists can only diagnose and grade prostate cancer if cancer is present in the biopsy specimen, which samples a small part of the prostate. Therefore, if cancer is present in an area of the prostate that is not sampled by the biopsy, or if the biopsy misses the aggressive sections of the cancer, then the report will not truly reflect the tumor aggressiveness. This results in instances of undiagnosed or “under graded” prostate cancer. Accurate identification of prostate cancer and tumor aggressiveness is one of the greatest challenges in prostate cancer diagnosis today.
Like any invasive medical procedure, there are risks associated with a prostate biopsy. The potential for pain, bleeding, sepsis, and hospitalization can all occur after a prostate biopsy. Although most serious complications are rare, they occur to the detriment of the patient’s health and comfort. Therefore, it is ideal to perform a biopsy only when the benefits clearly outweigh the risks.
It is essential that physicians find diagnostic tools that better target candidates for a prostate biopsy by improving specificity for aggressive prostate cancer and reducing the number of avoidable biopsies in low-risk men. The 4Kscore® Test fills the diagnostic gap between PSA as a screening test and biopsy as an invasive procedure with associated complications and cost. By providing the risk of aggressive prostate cancer in men with an elevated PSA, it reduces avoidable prostate biopsies in low-risk men, while identifying high-risk men for further evaluation.
1. American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/about/key-statistics.html