Recent research suggests that at-home spit tests are more effective than standard blood tests for men at high genetic risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer. These preliminary findings were presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting in Chicago.

Currently, there is no national screening programme for prostate cancer, and the standard PSA blood test is not accurate enough. The new saliva test, which can be done at home, looks for genetic variants linked to prostate cancer. This test was found to be more accurate than the PSA test for men with a high genetic predisposition to the disease.

The research was conducted by The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust. The study involved 6,142 European men aged 55-69. They found that the saliva test provided fewer false positives and detected a higher number of aggressive cancers. Specifically, 40% of men with high-risk scores from the saliva test were diagnosed with prostate cancer after further screening, compared to only 25% using the PSA test.

Professor Kristian Helin, chief executive of the Institute of Cancer Research, emphasised the need for a better screening test due to the limitations of the current PSA test. Naser Turabi from Cancer Research UK also highlighted the potential of genetic testing to improve targeted screening.

The study, known as the BARCODE 1 study, shows promise for the future of prostate cancer screening. Researchers believe that if further validated, this saliva test could save lives by detecting cancer early and reducing unnecessary treatments for men at lower risk. 

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