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A study to find out if looking at gene changes would be useful in screening for prostate cancer (PROFILE pilot)
This study looked at the DNA and results from prostate cancer screening tests of men with a family history of prostate cancer.
More about this trial
Because prostate cancer can sometimes run in families, researchers believe that changes to genes may increase men’s risk.
This study looked at gene changes in the
- blood tests
- tissue samples (
Some men also had an MRI scan.
Researchers hoped to build a picture (a genetic profile) of each man’s gene changes. And, look for links between these and the screening tests results.
The aim of this study was to see if it is useful to include genetic profiles in screening for prostate cancer.
Summary of results
The research team concluded that it is safe and accurate to use prostate biopsies to screen men with a family history of prostate cancer.
They also think that a genetic profile might be useful in future to see who has a higher risk of developing prostate cancer. But, in this study they didn’t find a link between gene changes and prostate cancer.
100 men took part in this study. Everyone:
- had a blood test to check for a protein called prostate specific antigen (PSA)
- had a blood test to check for changes in genes (
- had a prostate biopsy using an ultrasound scan (TRUS biopsy)
- answered questionnaires about their medical and family history
Researchers also asked 50 men to have an MRI scan.
When the study team looked at the results of the prostate biopsies they found that 25 out of 100 men (25%) had prostate cancer. 12 of these men had a medium or high grade cancer (the cancer cells looked very abnormal under the microscope).
When researchers looked at the results of the PSA blood test of these 25 men, they found that 13 out of 25 (around 50%) had a low PSA level.
A low PSA level (less than 3 ng/mL) is a normal reading. When this happens, men do not usually have further screening tests (such as a biopsy). This highlights the need to find additional ways to screen men that are more reliable.
Doctors studied the blood tests to look for changes in genes. They didn’t find any link between those and prostate cancer.
This was a small study and the researchers think a bigger number of men is needed to look at whether gene changes can be used as part of screening. They are currently doing another study and hope that around 700 men will take part.
We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (
How to join a clinical trial
Prof Rosalind Eeles
Cancer Research UK
Institute of Cancer Research (ICR)
The Ronald and Rita Macauley Foundation
The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust