What is the PCA3 test?
A PCA3 (prostate cancer gene 3) test is a simple urine test used to predict the likelihood of prostate cancer. Specifically, it is an additional tool used to determine whether a prostate biopsy is necessary. The PCA3 is specific for prostate cancer as the prostate cancer gene is only produced by prostate cancer cells.
How is the PCA3 test done?
To do a PCA3 test, your doctor must first do a digital rectal examination of the prostate gland. You must then urinate into a specimen cup which is sent to a laboratory to be analyzed. The results will be a PCA3 Score which indicates the likelihood that prostate cancer is present.
What is the difference between a PCA3 test and the PSA test?
The difference between a PCA3 test and the PSA test that the PCA3 test is specific for prostate cancer, while the PSA test is not. This is because PSA is not only produced by cancerous prostate cells, but non-cancerous prostate cells as well. Therefore, a man’s PSA level may be elevated for other conditions than prostate cancer, such as benign prostatic hyperplasia or prostatitis. PCA3 is only produced by prostate cancer cells and is not affected by prostate size. The PCA3 test is therefore better at predicting the presence of prostate cancer prior to having a prostate biopsy. This can help to reduce the number of unnecessary or repeat prostate biopsies.
When should I use the PCA3 test?
The PCA3 test is not meant to replace the PSA test. It is simply an additional tool used to provide a more accurate picture and prediction of whether prostate cancer is present or not. It is intended to be used in combination with the traditional prostate cancer screening tools (PSA test, DRE) to help decide whether a prostate biopsy is really necessary in men who are suspected of having prostate cancer. This includes men who have a suspicious DRE and/or an elevated PSA and men who have had one or more negative biopsies. If a prostate biopsy determines prostate cancer is present, the PCA3 test it may also help predict the risk of tumor progression and the aggressiveness of the tumor, which will help determine how early treatment is needed.
How are the PCA3 test results utilized?
The PCA3 test results, known as the PCA3 score, provides additional information which can help you and your doctor decide if a biopsy is needed or can be delayed. Other factors such as age, prostate size, prostate specific antigen level and the DRE results are also taken into account. As for what the PCA3 score means, the higher the PCA3 score, the more likely that prostate cancer will be found in the prostate biopsy. Therefore, a prostate biopsy is recommended. If the PCA3 score is low, a prostate biopsy may be unnecessary or at least delayed for some time.