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PCA3 test for prostate cancer - what is it?

The PCA3 molecular urine assay is a relatively new test, an additional screening method that is available to consultant urologists. The new PCA3 test is not a screening test that can be performed by itself and should be combined with a PSA measurement.

PCA3 is a new gene-based urine test for prostate cancer. It measures substances in the urine produced by prostate cancer cells. It is a simple test to perform which involves a brief DRE followed by a collection of urine. PCA3 is highly specific to prostate cancer and therefore in relation to PSA does not increase as a consequence to benign enlargement of the prostate or prostatitis.

It has some advantages over the standard PSA test:

  • It can avoid unnecessary prostate biopsies in patients who may have a raised PSA due to non-cancerous processes (i.e. it is more specific than PSA). This is because it is only produced by prostate cancer cells and not by increased prostate size.
  • It can provide extra reassurance that if you have had a negative prostate biopsy, prostate cancer has not been missed by the biopsy

The PCA3 test is painless, takes 5 minutes to perform and at present costs £450.  Results are returned within 7 to 10 days.  It is not currently available on the NHS.  We would be happy to discuss with you if PCA3 is appropriate for your situation.