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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Every year more than one million men have a prostate biopsy, an invasive procedure that involves needles. It turns out a majority of those biopsies reveal if a patient has no prostate cancer or low risk for cancer.
In an effort to reduce the number of invasive biopsies, UM Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center is introducing a new method in cancer screening. It’s a new tool called “4Kscore.”
Dr. Dipen Parekh, Chair of Department of Urology at University of Miami, is the lead author of the first U.S. clinical trial of the 4Kscore. The screening requires only a blood test.
Dr. Parekh says three-out-of-four men are unnecessarily subjected to the invasive procedure every year.
With this new blood test revealing an individual’s 4Kscore, in combination with some other clinical parameters, patients can get their individualized percentage risk for high risk prostate cancer.
“We found that [the 4KScore] has 80 percent chance of accurately predicting high grade prostate cancer,” said Dr. Parekh. “And, if you use several cut offs of the 4KScore, you can almost lead to reduction of 50-60 percent of unnecessary biopsies.”
It is not an easy subject to talk about, but it is a necessary and in some cases life-saving one.
Victor Franks works in the healthcare industry and understand the need for more conversation.
“Women will talk about breast cancer all day long, but men aren’t going to talk about prostate cancer,” said Franks. “It’s a specter that hangs over men as much as breast cancer with women.”
Doctors recommend that men over 40 get regular prostate exams. That’s a digital rectal examination performed by a doctor. If something suspicious is found, a prostate biopsy is ordered – during which a needle is inserted in the rectum.
“You have it done once. You really don’t want to do it again,” said Norwood Davis who has undergone a prostate biopsy before. “It was one of the most unpleasant experiences I’ve ever had.”
Davis’ biopsy turned out nothing, but at 75 years old he was scheduled for a second one. This time he was introduced to UM Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and the 4Kscore.
He said he was ordered to give blood and his tests revealed he had no reason for another biopsy.
“It’s close to a miracle for guys,” said Davis.
Dr. Parekh said as a doctor his goal is to preserve the quality of his patent’s lives. He added there is a sense of relief and reassurance both for the patient as well as the treating physician.
“What we are doing in our practice now is that as soon as a man is referred to us for a biopsy with an elevated PSA, we are using the 4Kscore to determine whether or not that individual needs biopsy or not. It’s not a knee jerk automatic reaction,” said Dr. Parekh.
The reduction in the number of biopsies performed could potentially add up to $1 billion in savings for the U.S. health care system.
While the 4Kscore is not FDA-approved, it is used under FDA guidelines. The good news is that the 4Kscore is covered by some insurance providers.