There are a few types of prostate cancer exams that doctors use and now there might be a new one that can be added to the list.
What Was Discovered About Prostate Cancer?
A new saliva-based test can be potentially used to determine men that are at risk of getting prostate cancer. Researchers say the test will identify the top 10 percent of men who are more likely to develop the disease.
The findings were published in a study on June 11 in the journal Nature Genetics.
Researchers discovered 63 new genetic variants called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that are linked to prostate cancer. They combined those gene variants with over 100 other previously known DNA markers to create the test.
"We have shown that information from more than 150 genetic variants can now be combined to provide a readout of a man's inherited risk of prostate cancer," said co-author Professor Rosalind Eeles.
The SNPs are typically inherited and can develop naturally. The more SNPs that come up during the test, the more likely that an individual will develop prostate cancer.
Researchers say that the saliva test, which can be used with a mouth swab, will cost under $100.
How Did Researchers Discover The DNA Markers?
To study these genetic variants, researchers examined the DNA of 140,000 men. About 80,000 were prostate cancer patients, and about 60,000 were men who did not have the disease.
When comparing the DNA, the variants typically involved a weaker immune system, which probably contributed to the risk of getting prostate cancer. There were also cases of damaged DNA.
Future Implications Of The Prostate Cancer Study
Before the test goes public, researchers will be working with primary care physicians in the United Kingdom with a sample group of patients. The real problem with the current study was the data sample. The historical data was from people of European descent, which isn't entirely representative of the United States population. They are currently in the process of examining data from 20,000 African American men to see if the test can be used on a wider population.
The most important thing about the saliva test is that if it is effective, then it can be used to help patients identify and prevent prostate cancer.
"The reason we are particularly excited by the test is that this can be offered in general practice as a spit test to really try and identify who is most at risk of prostate cancer so we can offer them targeted screening," said Eeles,