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Prostate Cancer Detection

Contributed by Allison A. Curley, Ph.D.

Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in American and European men1-2, and with almost 30,000 deaths in 2010, it is also one of the leading cancer killers3. The current primary clinical tests for prostate cancer screening are the digital rectal exam and the prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood serum test. PSA, also known as kallikrein gene 3, is a serine protease produced exclusively by prostate cells that is elevated in response to cancer. However, PSA levels can also rise due to several other factors such as age and benign conditions that produce an enlarged prostate, and therefore the utility of PSA for the detection of prostate cancer is controversial4.

A number of other promising biomarkers to augment or replace the PSA test are currently under development5. Urine levels of prostate cancer antigen 3 (PCA3), a non-coding RNA, are not associated with prostate volume or noncancerous conditions, and are a better predictor of prostate cancer than PSA levels according to several recent studies6-7. However, whether the detection of PCA3 improves survival is uncertain, and a suitable cutoff for elevated prostate cancer risk must be established. Other biomarker candidates include the TMPRSS2:ERG fusion gene and additional members of the kallikrein family8.

Findings presented in May 2014 at the American Urological Association annual meeting may provide a novel approach to detect these biomarkers. Researchers found that dogs trained to detect the odor of prostate cancer-specific volatile organic compounds emitted from tumors are able to differentiate between urine samples from men with and without prostate cancer with an accuracy greater than 95%9.

Unlike other forms of cancer, prostate cancer often grows slow enough that treatment may never be required. In light of the significant side effects associated with prostatectomy, radiation, and other forms of treatment, differentiating patients in need of treatment from those who simply require vigilant monitoring is of utmost importance. Thus, along with the identification of disease biomarkers in general, the search for tests that can differentiate between aggressive and slow-growing forms of the disease is an active area of research5.

Bethyl antibodies for prostate cancer research are found here:


Detection of human Fliamin B (red) in FFPE prostate carcinoma by IHC-IF

Detection of human Fliamin B (red) in FFPE prostate carcinoma by IHC-IF. Antibody: Rabbit anti-Filamin B (IHC-00355). Secondary: DyLight® 594-conjugated goat anti-rabbit IgG (A120-201D4). Counterstain: DAPI (blue).


Detection of human Cul4B in FFPE prostate carcinoma by IHC

Detection of human Cul4B in FFPE prostate carcinoma by IHC. Antibody: Rabbit anti-Cul4B (A303-864A). Secondary: HRP-conjugated goat anti-rabbit IgG (A120-501P). Substrate: DAB.

Detection of human WDR77/MEP50 (red) in FFPE prostate carcinoma by IHC-IF

Detection of human WDR77/MEP50 (red) in FFPE prostate carcinoma by IHC-IF. Antibody: Rabbit anti- WDR77/MEP50 (IHC-00338). Secondary: DyLight® 594-conjugated goat anti-rabbit IgG (A120-201D4). Counterstain: DAPI (blue).

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1. Ferlay J, Parkin, DM, Steliarova-Foucher E. 2010. Estimates of cancer incidence and mortality in Europe in 2008. J. Cancer. Mar;46(4):765–781.

2. Siegel R, Naishadham D, Jemal A. 2012. Cancer statistics, 2012. CA Cancer. J Clin. Jan-Feb;62(1):10–29.

3. S. Cancer Statistics Working Group. 2013. United States Cancer Statistics: 1999–2010 Incidence and Mortality Web-based Report. Atlanta, GA: Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Cancer Institute. Available at:

4. Gilgunn S, Conroy PJ, Saldova R, Rudd PM, O'Kennedy RJ. 2013. Aberrant PSA glycosylation: a sweet predictor of prostate cancer. Nat Rev Urol. Feb;10(2):99-107.

5. Schmid M, Trinh QD, Graefen M, Fisch M, Chun FK, Hansen J. 2014. The role of biomarkers in the assessment of prostate cancer risk prior to prostate biopsy: Which markers matter and how should they be used? World J Urol. Aug:32(4):871-880.

6. Chevli KK, Duff M, Walter P, Yu C, Capuder B, Elshafei A, Malczewski S, Kattan MW, Jones JS. 2014. Urinary PCA3 as a Predictor of Prostate Cancer in a Cohort of 3,073 Men Undergoing Initial Prostate Biopsy. J Urol. Jun;191(6): 1743.

7. Goode RR, Marshall SJ, Duff M, Chevli E, Chevli 2013. Use of PCA3 in detecting prostate cancer in initial and repeat prostate biopsy patients. Prostate. Jan;73(1):48-53.

8. Stephan C, Ralla B, Jung 2014. Prostate-specific antigen and other serum and urine markers in prostate cancer. Biochim Biophys Acta. Aug;1846(1):99-112.

9. Taverna G, Tidu L, Grizzi F, Giusti G, Seveso M, Benetti A, Hurle R, Zandegiacomo S, Pasini L, Mandressi A, Graziotti P. 2014. Prostate cancer urine detection through highly-trained dogs' olfactory system: a real clinical opportunity. J Urol. Apr;191(4):1382-1387.