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Nat Rev Urol. 2013 Feb;10(2):99-107. doi: 10.1038/nrurol.2012.258. Epub 2013 Jan 15.

Aberrant PSA glycosylation--a sweet predictor of prostate cancer.

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  • 1School of Biotechnology, Dublin City University, Dublin 9, Ireland.


Prostate cancer--the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men worldwide--can have a substantial effect on quality of life, regardless of the route the cancer takes. The serum PSA assay is the current gold standard option for diagnosing prostate cancer. However, a growing body of evidence suggests that PSA screening for prostate cancer results in extensive overdiagnosis and overtreatment. It is increasingly evident that the potential harm from overdiagnosis (in terms of unnecessary biopsies) must be weighed against the benefit derived from the early detection and treatment of potentially fatal prostate cancers. Rapid screening methods have been used to analyse glycosylation patterns on glycoproteins in large cohorts of patients, enabling the identification of a new generation of disease biomarkers. Changes to the expression status of certain glycan structures are now widely thought to be common features of tumour progression. In light of this development, much research has focused on the potential role of altered PSA glycosylation patterns in discriminating between significant and insignificant prostate cancers, with the aim of developing a more reliable diagnostic tool than the current serum PSA test.

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