PCA3 gene: alternative to biopsy in the diagnosis of prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is one of the main causes of death in men over 45 years of age. It is therefore essential to be screened and undergo diagnostic tests from this age onwards.

The alternative to biopsy in the diagnosis of prostate cancer is the PCA3 gene. This is a gene of specific expression in the prostate that shows an overexposure of prostatic carcinoma cells and is identified through the Progensa test.

This test quantifies the mRNA expression of the PCA3 and PSA genes. The higher the values, the greater the probability of obtaining a positive diagnosis of prostate cancer. Values below 30 indicate a low probability.

During the diagnostic phase, the test value indicates the probability of developing prostate cancer and if the PCA3 value increases in a period of 3-6 months, a biopsy will be performed.

In cases where the patient is in the treatment phase, the value of the test indicates the magnitude of the tumor and the need to undergo more active oncological therapies.

Until relatively recently, biopsy was the only method of diagnosing prostate cancer, but the PCA3 gene has been shown to give more specific results. In Spain, the Progensa test is not yet widely used, although there are already centers such as Andromedi that use it.

It has numerous advantages over biopsy, among them:

  • It reduces the number of biopsies that patients have to undergo.
  • Successful early diagnosis.
  • The prostate volume that the patient may present does not interfere with the test result.

In which cases is it appropriate to undergo the Progensa-PCA3 test?

The test can be used to rule out the appearance of cancer in healthy patients with a family history of prostate cancer and, in cases where the diagnosis is positive, to define the evolution of the cancer and the form and speed with which the tumor grows.

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In cases where high PSA levels are present, the test can reliably confirm the need for a biopsy.