A new blood test that determines whether a man does or does not have prostate cancer that requires treatment - clinically significant prostate cancer - has been launched in the UK.

The Mitomic Prostate Test (MPT) takes advantage of the unique characteristics of mutations in mitochondrial DNA as biomarkers which can signify the presence of clinically significant prostate cancer.

A clinical study carried out in collaboration with the University of Cambridge shows that the MPT biomarker has a higher than 99% negative predictive value. This means that men with a negative MPT result can therefore safely delay or avoid further diagnostic tests, as they are highly unlikely to have clinically significant prostate cancer. MPT also has a 92% sensitivity, which means that men with a positive MPT result can be referred for immediate medical intervention.

Dr Nikhil Chopra, Education Secretary for the Primary Care Urology Society said: “Until now, prostate cancer has been challenging to diagnose and current methods of diagnosis have limitations that create uncertainty. A simple blood-based test that can provide more accurate and certain information regarding the decision to undergo biopsy, is a welcome addition and may go some way to reducing one of the problems we face of over diagnosing low grade tumours.

"In the type of patient for whom this test is aimed, those with elevated PSA but no clear evidence of high-grade disease, we could positively impact how we diagnose and differentiate those prostate cancers which require treatment, from those which do not.”

Millions of men are wrongly referred for a prostate biopsy

Prostate cancer testing is heavily reliant on measuring Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) levels, which can give notoriously high false-positive results. Only 25% of men who have a biopsy following elevated PSA levels are found to have prostate cancer. This leads to millions of men being wrongly referred for a prostate biopsy. The MPT can help to reduce the number of prostate biopsies by up to 30%.

The test will initially be available privately, for self-funding patients, through private healthcare clinics with testing and result reporting being handled at HMR Labs in London. Aspire Pharma are actively undertaking work with the NHS on a longer-term plan to make the test available more widely.