In February, Northwestern Memorial Hospital became the first hospital in the US to offer the Prostate Health Index (PHI) test to the public. The test will soon be available throughout the US, giving patients access to a better diagnostic screening tool for prostate cancer.
PHI is a simple blood test that is nearly 3 times more accurate in detecting prostate cancer than the free/total PSA test. Dr. Catalona conducted several feasibility studies on the development of this blood test during the past 12 years. He also led the pivotal study that gained its approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The PHI test advances the science of prostate cancer management. The test is recommended for use in men with a PSA in the range of 4-10 ng/ml. Typically, US physicians recommend that men with a PSA in this range have a biopsy. However, benign conditions can elevate the PSA, leading to unnecessary biopsies. PHI is a noninvasive option for men with a PSA in this range.
PHI measures three forms of PSA ([-2]proPSA, free PSA and total PSA), then uses a formula to calculate a combined PSA index to determine a patient’s probability of developing prostate cancer. It is a more specific test than the PSA and has a predictive ability for cancer aggressiveness. This provides additional information to help physicians and patients make decisions about biopsies. The test also has been shown to be helpful in monitoring patients in active surveillance programs. PHI testing is already available to the public in Europe and Australia.
For further information on the PHI test, see the following previous QUEST articles: “Phi Stands for Prostate Health Index” in Summer/Fall 2012 and “Phi: FDA Approves New Blood Test to Improve Prostate Cancer Detection” in Winter 2012. Both articles are available online at www.drcatalona.com.