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A review of current clinical biomarkers for prostate cancer: towards personalised and targeted therapy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 December 2020

Ernest Osei*
Department of Medical Physics, Grand River Regional Cancer Centre, Kitchener, ON, Canada Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada Department of Systems Design Engineering, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada Department of Clinical Studies, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, GuelphON, Canada
Steph Swanson
Department of Medical Physics, Grand River Regional Cancer Centre, Kitchener, ON, Canada Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada
Author for correspondence: Ernest Osei, Grand River Regional Cancer Centre, Medical Physics, 835 King Street West, Kitchener, Ontario, N2G1G3. E-mail:



Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and it is responsible for about 10% of all cancer mortality in Canadian men. The current ‘gold standard’ for the diagnosis of prostate cancer is a prostate biopsy and the decision on when to biopsy a patient with non-suspicious Digital Rectal Examination (DRE) result and total prostate specific antigen (tPSA) of 4–10 ng/ml can be challenging. In order to shift the treatment paradigm of prostate cancer toward more personalised and targeted therapy, there is the need for a clear system that makes its detection binary so as to decrease the rate of inaccurate detections. Therefore in recent years, there have been several investigations into the development of various biomarkers with high sensitivity and specificity for screening, early detection and personalised patient-specific targeted medicine from diagnosis to treatment of the disease.

Materials and methods:

This paper reports on nine currently available clinical biomarkers used in screening for early detection and diagnosis, to reduce the number of unnecessary biopsies, in risk assessment of aggressive disease and in monitoring treatment response of prostate cancer.


Current clinical prostate cancer biomarkers have the potential for a personalised risk assessment of aggressive disease and the risk of developing distant metastatic disease and have been proven to be useful tools to guide clinicians in personalised patient-specific targeted treatment and in the shared decision making between patients and their physicians regarding prostate biopsy and treatment. Using biomarkers to select patients with a significant probability of aggressive prostate cancer would potentially avoid premature death from the disease, while at the same time would safely preclude patients who do not require unnecessary invasive intervention.

Literature Review
© The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press

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