MORE than 300,000 men could be spared invasive prostate cancer checks by looking at their genetic risk, experts claim.
The approach would also allow those most likely to develop the disease to be fast-tracked for life-saving tests.
Currently patients are given a PSA check if their GP suspects a tumour.
It measures a protein in the blood that increases when prostate cancer is present, but the results are not very accurate.
As a result, GPs refer around 800,000 patients for hospital tests each year.
And the technique would also see 160,000 high-risk patients prioritised for testing.
Lead author Dr Harry Green, independent Research Fellow at the University of Exeter Medical School, said: “Our study is the first to demonstrate that incorporating genetic risk into GP’s risk assessment of patients’ symptoms of possible prostate cancer could result in faster referral for those at most risk.”
The findings are published in the British Journal of Cancer.
More than 52,000 men a year are diagnosed with prostate cancer – and 12,000 are killed annually.
Symptoms, such as needing to pee at night, are common and easily misdiagnosed.
Experts claim 14 per cent of prostate cancer deaths could be avoided if they were diagnosed earlier.
Dr Sarah Bailey, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Exeter Medical School, said: “This is potentially an exciting new strategy for early cancer detection.
“Not only can high risk patients be fast tracked, but those at low risk can safely avoid invasive investigations.”