New blood test for prostate cancer screening cuts unnecessary MRI scans by 36%

Utilizing a newly developed blood test for prostate cancer screening dramatically reduces unnecessary MRI scans and avoids overdiagnosing patients, according to research out of Sweden.

Combining the Stockholm3 test with an MRI-guided biopsy approach can cut required scans by one-third, authors explained Aug. 12 in The Lancet Oncology. And compared with traditional screening, the blood test reduced overdiagnoses by 69%, while also halving the number of needed biopsies.

“Overall, our studies show that we have identified the tools needed to be able to carry out effective and safe screening for prostate cancer,” Tobias Nordströmassociate professor of urology within the Department of Clinical Sciences at the Karolinska Institutet said in a statement. “After many years of debate and research, it feels fantastic to be able to present knowledge that can improve healthcare for men.”

Back in July, Nordström and co-investors published a study showing they could reduce overdiagnoses by replacing traditional prostate biopsies with MRI and targeted techniques. This new study builds on those results, revealing their algorithm-based blood test as an important complement.

The findings are based on some 49,000 men, of whom 12,750 participated and provided blood samples. Men with elevated PSA levels (3 ng/ML or higher) were randomly chosen for either traditional biopsies or the MRI-guided variety between 2018 and 2021.

Overall, the Stockhold3 blood test combined with MRI-target biopsies detected more clinically significant cancers and resulted in fewer MRI scans and invasive biopsies, the authors reported.

According to prior investigations, using Stockholm3 and MRI separately is cost-effective. And Nordström says combining the two should be just as good.

“We have now analyzed the cost-effectiveness when these tools are combined and will shortly report exciting results from that analysis,” Nordström added in a statement.

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