Better Tests for Prostate Cancer

MADISON, Wis.—A test in the pipeline could help avoid the confusion surrounding prostate screening. The standard screening test today, the PSA test, may expose too many men to needless procedures that have potential side effects.

“We need better tests to allow us to predict the biology of these cancers so we can do a better job of identifying who needs treatment and who doesn’t,” says Dr. David Jarrard, a professor of urology at UW School of Medicine and Public Health.


The new test measures levels of ionized calcium in the blood. Researchers at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health have found that men who had the highest levels of ionized calcium were three times more likely to die later of prostate cancer.

The test, currently in development, could give a better indication of when to treat the cancer, or when to wait and watch. Such a test could be most useful when deciding whether to do a biopsy of a suspected prostate tumor, says Jarrard.

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