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In the United States, prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers and one of the leading causes of death among men. In 2007, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 223,307 men were diagnosed with and another 29,093 died from prostate cancer. Over the past several years, blood tests have been used to help diagnose the condition; however, researchers from the University of Michigan have recently reported a new test which may more accurately confirm the condition.

In 2005, Dr. Arul Chinnaiyan and a team discovered genetic changes that confirm the existence of prostate cancer in men. After their findings were reported in 2009, the team began work, funded by Gen-Probe, to develop a diagnostic urine test that could accurately confirm the presence of these generic markers. In August 2011, Chinnaiyan and his team announced several successful trials of a test that were 100 percent accurate in detecting the gene fusion linked to the cancer. Approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the new diagnostic tool is being sought.

New Option Needed

Currently, men who may have prostate cancer submit to a blood test that checks for elevated levels of serum prostate-specific antigen (PSA) or digital rectal examinations (DRE.) Neither of these diagnostic tools is 100 percent accurate. The PSA blood tests can produce false positives or false negatives. This is true for many men, especially those who are obese. In the case of positive or suspicious PSA blood test results, the patient undergoes a series of other tests, some invasive, to confirm the cancer.

As early stage prostate cancer may not have specific symptoms, misdiagnosis can be occur and create serious emotional and financial consequences for a patient. If the condition is not detected in time for effective treatment, the disease can spread to the skeletal system and affect the spine, bladder function, nerves, and ultimately cause death.

An Attorney Can Help

For those patients who are misdiagnosed or offered incorrect treatment, actions can be taken through malpractice claims and suits. Patients can seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages and other expenses. Family members can also file claims for loss of consortium depending on the laws of their home state. In these cases, the advice of a skilled malpractice attorney will be needed.