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Could semen save your prostate?

18 November 2015

Toronto -

Did you know that only about one third of men who receive prostate biopsies actually have prostate cancer? That means two thirds of men being biopsied for prostate cancer are being biopsied unnecessarily. Dr Eleftherios Diamandis, a Society-funded researcher and clinical biochemist from Mount Sinai Hospital and senior scientist at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, part of Sinai Health System in Toronto, is confident that his new semen test for prostate cancer will radically reduce this number. Prostate cancer stat

Instead of being referred directly to a biopsy after a blood test shows elevated levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), Dr Diamandis is proposing adding a semen test, which is still under development, to determine the presence of the biomarkers of prostate cancer. This 2-step screening process could allow men and their doctors to make more informed decisions.

It’s worth noting that a high PSA score may not be caused by prostate cancer. PSA levels can be raised due to an enlarged prostate gland, an infection, recent sexual activity or some medications. Dr Diamandis hopes that identifying other indicators of prostate cancer, the semen test will be more specific in determining who actually needs a biopsy. 

“We already know the 20 most frequent gene mutations in prostate cancer,” says Dr Diamandis. “We predict we will be able to test a semen sample for any of these 20 gene mutations, resulting in very few false positives. This would be far superior to the PSA test.”

Dr Diamandis’ research has been made possible by a $200,000 Innovation Grant from the Canadian Cancer Society, generously supported by the Haladner Memorial Foundation Research Fund in memory of Gertrude Green. Last year, the Society invested $44 million in Canadian cancer research projects like Dr Diamandis’ and is the 2nd largest national charitable funder of prostate cancer research in Canada.

“Thanks to Canadian Cancer Society donors, we are proud to invest in excellent Canadian scientists like Dr Diamandis who could change the way we diagnose cancers, increase survival and improve quality of life,” says Dr Siân Bevan, Director of Research at the Canadian Cancer Society.

Questions about current screening processes for prostate cancer? Call our Cancer Information Service at 1-888-939-3333 or visit cancer.ca.