Thursday, March 2, 2023

A More Accurate Blood Test For Prostate Cancer

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Health, Medicine, Nature of Science, History of Science

Ed Hessler

To begin with a reader warning is much too strong so I'll use a reader alert
The link below will take you a scientific paper that requires being a qualified medical scientist with a background in the subject matter to read and understand it. This includes the title but if you are trained, the words convey important information about the paper to follow and clues on whether it is of interest to you and your particular field of biomedical research.

However, the topic is of interest to male patients and includes a reader aid - simple summary - which I find very useful. It is about a new blood test for prostate cancer. The standard PSA can lead to unnecessary biopsies. The new one combines the PSA with another test. In a pilot study of 147 patients it was shown to be 94% accurate.

If you are puzzled about that term accuracy this description of accuracy and precision from a resource for teachers on teaching and learning, is about this concept.

Here is the link to the paper where you can learn more about the authors and their affiliations, read a simple summary which is directly followed by the scientific abstract for the paper (inviting a comparison but keep the purpose of each in mind) and other important sections: the opening background, limitations of the study and the conclusion.
The paper includes a hint of how science works, particularly in biomedicine, where one starts with a small sample for a pilot study. This is used to help inform the researchers on not only whether to proceed but how.

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