4K Test: Prostate Cancer Screening

Prostate cancer is a common disease among the male population. The risk of prostate cancer is significantly increased with older age. In 2019, about 174,650 new cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed in the United States1.

Most cases of prostate cancer occur in men who are older than 65. The average age at which prostate cancer is diagnosed has been reported as 66 years.

In 90% of patients diagnosed with prostate cancer, the disease only affects the prostate gland. Localized prostate cancer is often considered a highly treatable disease. Most men treated for this type of prostate cancer will recover successfully. In fact, the 5-year survival rate of men with localized prostate cancer is almost 100%

In some cases, however, prostate cancer can spread to other parts of the man’s body. An estimated 88 male patients die each day from a more advanced type of prostate cancer2. Recognizing the condition early on, as well as risk signs can help to initiate treatment before cancer becomes more aggressive.

What Is The 4K score Blood Test?

A 4K score blood test is one of the standard measures taken when a person is suspected of having prostate cancer.

The test is often considered a significant advantage, as it may provide adequate information regarding a man’s risk of aggressive prostate cancer3.

In turn, this helps some men avoid undergoing a prostate biopsy. The test is often used during prostate cancer screening. It can provide an accurate prediction of the risk of a more advanced type of prostate cancer over a period of two decades.

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What Does The 4K score Test Measure?

The 4K score test isn’t a single testing procedure that is used in men with a risk of prostate cancer. The test is sometimes advised following a rectal exam that provided suspicious findings.

Instead of just looking at a single factor, the 4K score test rather considers four different screening tests. These are all blood tests that are commonly used on men.

The four tests that a 4K score test will take into consideration include:

When there is an elevated PSA level in the patient’s blood, then it usually means there is a problem with the prostate gland.

PSA levels that are high may indicate the presence of prostate cancer. This is why a doctor will advise a male patient to undergo the 4Kscore test when such results are returned.

Apart from these four blood tests, additional factors are taken into consideration during a 4Kscore test. This includes DRE results from the patient. The male patient’s age will also be taken into consideration. Furthermore, the analysis also asks if the patient had previously undergone a prostate biopsy.

Any male patient who is concerned about their risk of prostate cancer may benefit from a 4Kscore test. The test is particularly useful and advised for men who may be at risk of aggressive prostate cancer. This is a type of prostate cancer where the disease will spread to other parts of the patient’s body.

This is a dangerous type of cancer that can lead to life-threatening complications. Failure to initiate treatment early on can lead to less successful results.

It should be noted that the test is not advised for men under the age of 40. Similarly, it may not yield useful results in patients older than 80 years. Men with a previous prostate cancer diagnosis are also advised to avoid the 4Kscore test.

Furthermore, a man may not be able to undergo this test if they recently took certain drugs. Specific drugs that may interfere with the test include Proscar and Avodart, as well as 5-alpha reductase inhibitor medications.

What Can You Expect To Learn About Your Health From The 4Kscore Blood Test?

The primary aim of the 4Kscore test is to provide a view on a man’s risk of aggressive prostate cancer. The test will provide a man with a number. The number is based on an equation. The equation takes all the factors previously discussed into account.

It is estimated that the prediction of the 4Kscore blood test is for the next ten years. In some cases, it may yield effective results for up to 20 years ahead.

A man can learn whether they are at risk of serious cancer in their prostate cancer with the use of this test. This test also helps to avoid overtreatment in a man who is at a low risk of aggressive prostate cancer.

How The 4Kscore Test Is Performed

Men who want to find their risk for aggressive prostate cancer need to understand how the 4Kscore test works.

The test has many similarities to standard prostate cancer screening. In fact, the same prostate cancer tests4 are used to assist in the calculation of the 4Kscore test.

There is not a single specific test that happens with the 4Kscore test. Instead, the test involves other types of procedures. The testing is usually done before a prostate biopsy is considered. Blood is drawn from the patient and then sent to a laboratory. Four specific tests are then performed on the blood samples at the laboratory.

The physician will need to provide accompanying data with the blood samples. This includes the patient’s age and results from a digital rectal exam. Total PSA, free PSA, and similar blood test results are then taken into account, alongside this information.

A final score is provided to the physician who ordered the test. The score can be used to interpret the patient’s risk for aggressive prostate cancer.

A digital rectal exam will often be performed at the physician’s office. The physician will have to provide details of their findings. The data is used to make the appropriate calculation for a 4Kscore.

The doctor also needs to ask the patient about their medical history. Results from previous biopsies done on the patient’s prostate are accounted for in the equation.

Who Can Perform A 4Kscore Test?

Multiple parties will generally be involved in the process of performing a 4Kscore test. The process starts by visiting a physician. The patient should discuss their concern with the physician. Any symptoms that the patient has should also be mentioned to the doctor.

The doctor can initiate the process of the 4Kscore test. They will need to conduct a physical examination. The doctor also looks at the patient’s medical history. Furthermore, the patient will need to allow the physician to perform a digital rectal exam, possibly.

The physician then compiles the data. Blood is sometimes drawn at the physician’s office. In some cases, the physician may send the patient to a laboratory to get their blood sample draw. The next part of the process is done by scientists and researchers at the laboratory.

The results will usually be forwarded to the physician. They will be able to discuss the findings with the patient. The physician can also make appropriate recommendations for the patient, based on the conclusions of the 4Kscore test.

How Do You Prepare For A 4Kscore Test?

The 4Kscore test is generally simple. A patient does not need to take any serious steps to prepare for the test.

A patient should ensure they understand how the process works. Being educated can be helpful in the process of obtaining a 4Kscore test. The patient should understand how a digital rectal exam works too. Being prepared for this process is essential.

Furthermore, if the patient is seeing a new physician, then they should ensure they take their medical files with them. The new physician will need to look at the patient’s medical history. The patient should also bring any results from a previous prostate biopsy with them.

How To Interpret The 4Kscore Test Results?

The purpose of the 4Kscore test is to help a man realize their risk of aggressive prostate cancer. The test takes several factors into account. The equation is rather complex but serves a beneficial purpose in the modern world.

Compared to a standard PSA test, a 4Kscore test can provide a man with more accurate results regarding their risks.

The information that is obtained from a 4Kscore test would also help point a physician toward appropriate prostate cancer treatment5. This allows a patient to receive the correct treatment. It also greatly reduces the risk of overtreatment. This has been a common concern in the medical industry over the years.

A male patient who undergoes a 4Kscore test should understand what the results mean. The result of the test is provided as a number. The number represents a percentage. The percentage is the result of a complex equation. Both clinical data and results from the blood test are used in the equation.

The percentage shows the man at what risk they are for aggressive prostate cancer. The result generally refers to the risk within the next 10 to 20 years. The test can provide a risk that is lower than 1% in many cases. In some scenarios, it may also yield a result that is higher than 95%.

This helps a physician distinguish between a high-risk and a low-risk patient.

What Results On A 4Kscore Test Should Lead You To Seek Further Treatment?

Men do need to understand when they need to consider treatment. The 4Kscore test provides details that would help a person understand what their risk is for aggressive cancer.

In cases where there is a high risk provided by the test, the patient should consider discussing treatment with their physician.

It is generally advised that a biopsy is not needed in cases where a patient’s 4Kscore test is lower than 7.5%. In cases where the test is higher than 7%, a biopsy may be advisable. A risk that is more than 7.5% is generally considered a concern by healthcare professionals.

The higher the percentage, the more of a risk that man has to develop advanced prostate cancer. When the man seeks further diagnostic testing, a treatment plan can be initiated to provide early treatment.

With prostate cancer, early treatment is known to assist in delivering better results. The chances of the man surviving prostate cancer will also be greater with early detection and when treatment is initiated during an early stage.

Accuracy Of 4K score Tests

Questions have been raised regarding the accuracy of the 4Kscore test in the detection of prostate cancer. The test has started to play an important role in prostate cancer screening.

Men with low-grade cancer need to understand their potential risk of a more aggressive type of the disease. This is exactly where the 4Kscore test comes into play.

Several tests can be performed by a urologist to assist in the detection of prostate cancer. The 4Kscore test is often considered superior. This is due to the variety of factors that are taken into consideration with this test. Instead of only looking at PSA levels, including total PSA, the test considers several other factors too.

Many tests consider elevated PSA as a high-risk factor. With the 4K score test, PSA screening is taken into consideration, along with other blood tests. It also considers the patient’s clinical data. This does not only makes the test highly accurate but also reduces the risk of an unnecessary prostate biopsy.

Conclusion

Men should ensure they speak to their doctor before a 4Kscore test. There are a few factors that may interfere with the results of the test. The man needs to mention a history of prostate cancer.

If the man had a prostate biopsy in the past, this should be noted too. Furthermore, the man needs to tell the doctor if they recently had a digital rectal exam, as this may also have an impact on the testing procedures.

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Sources

  1. Cancer.Net. (2019) Prostate Cancer: Statistics. [online] Available at: https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/prostate-cancer/statistics
  2. Prostate Cancer Foundation. Incidence of Prostate Cancer. [online] Available at: https://www.pcf.org/about-prostate-cancer/what-is-prostate-cancer/prostate-cancer-survival-rates/
  3. Reviews in Urology. (2017) Use of the 4Kscore test to predict the risk of aggressive prostate cancer prior to prostate biopsy: Overall cost savings and improved quality of care to the US healthcare system. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5434830/
  4.  Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Prostate Cancer Diagnosis. [online] Available at: https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/types/prostate/diagnosis
  5. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. (2013) The prostate cancer predicament. [online] Available at: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/magazine/the-prostate-cancer-predicament/

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