For years medics have hoped for an accurate way of predicting if a patient is likely to get prostate cancer – and experts think they have found the answer.
The simple £10 saliva test could save thousands of lives.
It can identify the one in 100 men with a 50% chance of getting the disease, and the one in 10 with a 25% risk. The DNA discovery could mean most men not having to undergo invasive prostate examinations.
Professor Ros Eeles, of the Institute of Cancer Research, which led the research, said “it could save the NHS millions”.
She added: “We now finally have a genetic profiling test we can try on the general population. If it does pull out these men at higher risk, which we think it will, it will mean only 10% of men need prostate cancer screening tests and the rest we can leave alone.”
The researchers have identified 63 new genetic variations in DNA that predict the onset of prostate cancer.
It is the first time enough genetic mutations have been found to develop a test fit for clinical use.
Doctors are trialling it in London. If successful, it could be offered on the NHS in a few years to men over 40.
Those identified at increased risk in the pilot scheme will undergo MRI scans, a blood test and a biopsy.
The London-based ICR said it is a big leap forward in the attempts to prevent the disease.
It is the most common cancer in men. Around one in eight will get it at some point. The study on oncoarray gene analysis was published yesterday in the journal Nature Genetics.
Public Health England called it “a very welcome development in the urgent need for a better, more accurate test for prostate cancer”.
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