Prostate screenings could become reality within next 5 years, says expert

·2-min read
Technological advances mean it may be possible to screen for prostate cancer in the next five years, one of the UK’s leading experts has said (PA Wire)
Technological advances mean it may be possible to screen for prostate cancer in the next five years, one of the UK’s leading experts has said (PA Wire)

Prostate cancer screenings could become a reality within the next five years thanks to advances in technology, a scientist has claimed.

Currently, there is no screening programme for the disease which has claimed the lives of Dennis Hopper and Frank Zappa with NHS England calling screening “notoriously tricky”.

Despite it being one of the most common cancers, there is no equivalent of the regular mammograms that detect breast cancer.

But Ros Eeles from the Institute of Cancer Research has spoken of his hopes of a scientific breakthrough before the end of the decade.

“With the advances in genetics and also imaging, particularly MRI, realistically we do need some more data, but we’re probably looking at getting close to a tailored screening programme in the next three to five years,” the professor of oncogenetics said.

“We might need to use all of them together… so we can find those who have significant disease,” she added in comments to Radio 4’s Today programme.

Around 50,000 men in the UK are told they have the disease each year and one in eight will be diagnosed in their lifetime.

A blood test known as Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA), which detects proteins in the prostate gland, can be used to evaluate a patient’s risk of getting the disease, but it does not accurately distinguish between dangerous cancers from harmless ones.

This, the researchers say, can lead to both unnecessary operations and missed cancers that are harmful.

NHS England says the symptoms of prostate cancer can include:

  • needing to pee more frequently, often during the night

  • needing to rush to the toilet

  • difficulty in starting to pee (hesitancy)

  • straining or taking a long time while peeing

  • weak flow

  • feeling that your bladder has not emptied fully

  • blood in urine or blood in semen

The NHS adds the symptoms do not always mean you have prostate cancer. Many men’s prostates get larger as they get older because of a non-cancerous condition called benign prostate enlargement.

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