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Study lauds a new test for prostate cancer

LOS ANGELES -- A new prostate cancer test that relies on measuring levels of a blood protein called EPCA-2 accurately found cancer 94 percent of the time, a significant improvement over the current PSA test, according to a study released yesterday.

Each year about 1.6 million men undergo biopsies because they test positive on a PSA test, but only about 230,000 of them have cancer.

The new EPCA-2 test not only detected prostate cancer, but also could determine if it had spread to other parts of the body, according to the study, published in the journal Urology.

"It could allow us to help patients decide if they need a biopsy or if it's tame or has the ability to invade outside the prostate," said Robert H. Getzenberg, director of research at James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute at Johns Hopkins University and a coauthor of the study.

The test still faces large-scale clinical trials and review by the US Food and Drug Administration, but it could be available in early 2008, said Getzenberg, who is a consultant to Seattle-based Onconome Inc., which is developing the test technology.