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Detection of telomerase activity in prostate massage samples improves differentiating prostate cancer from benign prostatic hyperplasia

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We performed a case-control study in which we tested the ability of a non-invasive assay to detect telomerase activity and to distinguish between prostatic cancer (Pca) and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) on samples of epithelial cells obtained after prostatic massage.


Telomerase activity was determined by a telomeric repeat amplification protocol (TRAP) assay. We selected 60 patients with histologically proven Pca (30 cases) or BPH (30 cases). Specimens included in this study were from patients who had no suspicious findings on digital rectal examination for cancer, had clinical evidence of lower urinary tract symptoms, had no sonographic signs of Pca at the transrectal ultrasound evaluation, had total PSA values moderately elevated (2.6–15 ng/ml), and had no evidence of other urological cancers. The whole procedure was conducted in double blind between pathologists and molecular biology operators.


Telomerase activity was detected in 90% of Pca cases and in 13% of BPH cases. The sensitivity (90%) and specificity (76%) of this method were calculated. The positive predictive value, negative predictive value, and diagnostic efficiency were 87%, 90%, and 88% respectively.


Our data indicate that telomerase activity detected by TRAP assay on prostate epithelial cells collected by prostate massage can substantially improve the distinction between Pca and BPH conditions. One of the clinical benefits resulting from the use of this new assay would be to refine the biopsy indication and to avoid for several patients without Pca the unnecessary cost and the complications of prostate biopsy.

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Correspondence to Claudio Festuccia.

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Vicentini, C., Gravina, G.L., Angelucci, A. et al. Detection of telomerase activity in prostate massage samples improves differentiating prostate cancer from benign prostatic hyperplasia. J Cancer Res Clin Oncol 130, 217–221 (2004).

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