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New tests may better detect prostate cancer

Pennsylvania men may have access to a new and inexpensive test for prostate cancer within a year. The owner of the biotech startup that developed it used it to diagnose an aggressive form of the disease in his own father.

The man's 61-year-old father actually had a negative screening test, known as a PSA, performed by his own doctor, but false negatives are common in PSA tests. The new test that diagnosed the cancer looks at DNA fragments in the blood that carry signs of the disease. Several others companies are developing similar tests. They are called liquid biopsies because they test blood rather than tissue. Some of these tests look for early signs of cancer while others while others track how cancer is progressing.

Around one out of every seven men is diagnosed with prostate cancer, but of the more than 27,000 who died while having it in 2015, many actually died of heart disease and not the cancer. Unfortunately, it is the higher-risk forms of prostate cancer that prove to be more difficult to detect, and this means that diagnoses are being missed among those who need it the most.

Prostate cancer is often slow-moving, but a failure to diagnose its more aggressive forms could be deadly. Patients who feel that they have been harmed by a missed or delayed diagnosis may want to meet with their attorneys to discuss the advisability of filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. This type of litigation focuses on whether or not the plaintiff received the requisite standard of care. Therefore, while there might be some latitude for a doctor to miss a difficult diagnosis,, if the doctor ignored symptoms or misread test results, this could be considered negligence.

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