The PCA3 test involves a digital rectal examination of the prostate and collection of sample of urine, which is taken for testing for the PCA3 gene.
The PCA3 test is the first molecular diagnostic test that can contribute to the diagnosis of prostate cancer, research indicates that this test is twice as accurate as the PSA test. The PCA3 gene is only expressed by prostate tumours and not by non-malignant conditions and as a result a negative PCA3 test may negate the need for prostate biopsies which can be uncomfortable and can sometimes lead to complications such as bleeding and infection.
Historically, the PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) blood test has been the main test used to help diagnose prostate cancer. A raised PSA level can increase the chances of prostate cancer being present; however, 2 out of 3 men with a raised PSA will not have prostate cancer as other conditions can cause the PSA to rise (prostatitis/infection/benign prostatic enlargement). In addition, 1 out of 7 men with prostate cancer will not have an elevated PSA level.
A high PSA test together with a positive PCA3 test is clinically significant and further tests such as biopsies may then be recommended. Based on a raised PSA test, many men will undergo prostate biopsies unnecessarily - approximately only 1 out of 3 men having a biopsy will have prostate cancer.
A non-invasive prostate cancer treatment availble is by high intensity focused ultrasound.