What you should know about the PCA3

The PCA3 test (sometimes known as UPM3) is a marker for prostate cancer based on a genetic analysis of cells in the urine. The urine sample is collected after a firm massage of your prostate by a doctor.

The test may be useful as one of the tools we can use to help us decide whether or not a man has cancer in his prostate.

However, the PCA3 is not a “screening” test that can be performed in isolation and tell you whether or not you do have cancer. It should be seen as just one possible stage in your assessment if there is any reason for suspicion – for example, if you have had blood tests showing a high PSA reading but a benign-feeling prostate on examination, or if you have had biopsies in the past which have come back negative in spite of a raised PSA.

The result of the PCA3 test has to be taken into consideration along with the PSA measurement, a digital rectal examination by a doctor and any previous history of prostate investigations.

It may help to avoid the inconvenience of a biopsy (or repeat biopsies) for many men whose diagnosis is uncertain. A negative result may mean that a biopsy can be avoided or postponed; a positive result means it would probably be wise to perform or repeat biopsies. A biopsy is, for now, the only way to be certain whether cancer cells are present.

If you believe the PCA3 may be appropriate in your case, you will need to book an appointment at The Prostate Centre for a consultation with one of our doctors. Both the consultation and the test itself should be paid for on the day of attendance; however as long as you bring with you a letter of referral from your GP or specialist, the cost may be covered by your health insurance (subject to the terms of your policy – please check with your insurer’s claims team before you come).