The Stockholm3 blood test developed by researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden has been found to improve the prostate cancer screening process.

In a recent study published in The Lancet Oncology, researchers found that Stockholm3 can decrease the number of MRI scans required by around 33%, as well as preventing the identification of minor, low-risk tumours.

This complements the research team’s previous findings, which suggested that magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) could lower overdiagnoses and enhance prostate cancer screening.

The Karolinska Institutet said that the existing prostate cancer screening techniques, namely prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests combined with conventional biopsies, could lead to unnecessary biopsies and the detection of many minor and low-risk tumours (overdiagnosis).

Because of this, Lithuania is the only country to have so far launched a prostate cancer screening programme nationwide since the benefits are deemed not to outweigh the drawbacks.

Karolinska Institutet Danderyd Hospital Department of Clinical Sciences urology associate professor Tobias Nordström said: “Overall, our studies show that we have identified the tools needed to be able to carry out effective and safe screening for prostate cancer.

“After many years of debate and research, it feels fantastic to be able to present knowledge that can improve healthcare for men.”

Data from the previous STHLM3MRI study indicated that overdiagnosis could be lowered by replacing standard prostate biopsies with MRI and targeted biopsies.

The results from the latest research show that the Stockholm3 test could be an important complement to reduce overdiagnosis.

The Stockholm3 test uses an algorithm to assess protein markers, genetic markers and clinical data.

Mr Nordström said: “Separate use of the Stockholm3 test and MRI has previously been shown to be cost-effective.

“We have now analysed the cost-effectiveness when these tools are combined and will shortly report exciting results from that analysis.”

The development rights for the Stockholm3 test are held by A3P Biomedical, a Swedish company that aims to ‘radically improve precision in prostate cancer diagnostics and treatment’.