There’s no definitive way for physicians to determine which prostate cancer cells will become aggressive, and which are the ones a man can live with without having to undergo costly and often life-altering treatment. But methods that can do just that appear to be in the works, according to STAT.
Experts agree that too many men are currently treated for prostate cancers that would grow so slowly that they’d never become a threat. And the results of such treatment include incontinence and impotence, to name just two. Some estimates say that up to one-third of men with a PSA reading of 4 to 10 will have a biopsy that says cancer, but most of those are harmless. About one million men a year in the United States have prostate biopsies.
Researchers are looking for a better approach. Laurence Klotz, MD, of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto, tells STAT: “There are a whole slew of blood and urine tests already available or on the way that can take a guy whose PSA is mildly elevated and tell him he doesn’t need a biopsy. How much could we drive down overdiagnosis? A lot.”
Knowing what’s at stake, researchers are busy developing new imaging and genetic tests, and are even looking into face-recognition software.
As Klotz tells STAT: “The field is on fire.”