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  4.  – New tests for cancer look at DNA in blood

New tests for cancer look at DNA in blood


Oregon men may want to take a test for prostate cancer that is expected to be available within a year. Unlike the usual screening test, the PSA, this new test looks for traces of DNA in the blood that show signs of cancer. It is known as a “liquid biopsy” because it only requires a little blood rather than the more invasive biopsy that requires tissue for a diagnosis.

Several companies are developing similar types of tests. These tests fall into two separate categories. One type is focused on early cancer detection while the other type traces the progression of cancer. This test for prostate cancer proved particularly successful when the owner of the company that developed it asked his father, who had just had a negative PSA, if he wanted to try it. The test detected an aggressive form of prostate cancer and his father began treatment immediately.

One of the weaknesses of the PSA is that it often produces false negatives. Many forms of prostate cancer are slow moving, and while more than 27,000 men who had it died in 2015, in many cases, it was heart disease and not the cancer that killed them. Unfortunately, it is the higher risk forms of prostate cancer that often show no symptoms and return false negatives.

A failure to detect cancer might also occur if a doctor does not take the necessary precautions. For example, a doctor may fail to test for prostate cancer despite symptoms because a patient is younger or does not fit the risk factors in some other way. This could lead to the spread of the disease and a worsened condition. If a patient has been harmed by a delayed diagnosis, a medical malpractice attorney could be of assistance in pursuing compensation if it can be determined that such delay constituted a failure to exhibit the requisite standard of care.