Clinical Tests

The Molecular Testing Lab at MCTP offers the following tests certified for clinical use.

PCA3 Test:

The serum PSA test (prostate-specific antigen) is the conventional screening method that is often administered to help physicians determine if prostate cancer might be present. However, there is a chance that PSA levels can be elevated in non-cancerous conditions such as benign hyperplasia. Additionally, some individuals that do have prostate cancer may not display elevated levels of PSA. As a result, some cancers may escape early detection while others will be falsely positive when no cancer is present and these patients may be subjected to unnecessary biopsies.

The PCA3 test was developed to supplement the results from conventional PSA testing and help address some of these difficulties. PCA3 (prostate cancer antigen-3) is a gene that is found in the prostate whose expression level (mRNA) is increased in cancer. The PCA3 test measures the level of the PCA3 mRNA in the first urine collected following an attentive digital rectal examination, with higher levels being potentially associated with a positive prostate cancer biopsy as determined by a calculated score. PCA-3 may help to improve the specificity of prostate cancer detection providing additional information about the risk of prostate cancer over the use of the PSA test alone. The combined measurement of PSA and PCA3 could assist physicians in determining if performing a biopsy would be helpful for the patient. The PCA3 test alone is not presently indicated for use as a screening test for prostate cancer.

CTC Assay:

The CellSearch® CTC Test is the first diagnostic test used to automate the capture and detection of circulating tumor cells (CTCs), tumor cells that have detached from solid tumors and entered the patient’s blood.  The CellSearch® CTC Test can be a useful tool in the management of metastatic breast, colorectal, or prostate cancer patients in combination with standard methods of monitoring disease status and to provide a more complete picture of disease prognosis. CellSearch® result is intended for use in conjunction with all clinical information derived from diagnostic tests (e.g., imaging, laboratory tests), physical examination, and complete medical history to make informed clinical decisions.

Requesting Tests

If you are interested in undergoing the test(s), you are encouraged to discuss this with your physician to determine if the test(s) would be useful for your specific case. It is very important that you consult with your physician and gather as much information as possible prior to making a medical decision to determine if testing would be appropriate and beneficial.  If your physician determines that a test may be appropriate for you, he or she may then contact MTL or MLabs listed below for more information and to arrange for testing.

To assist you in making informed medical decisions, the University of Michigan Cancer AnswerLine is also available to answer your questions.  You may call the U-M Cancer AnswerLine at (800) 865-1125 (8:00 AM - 5:30 PM ET) to speak with a registered oncology nurse.  You may also follow this link to a form where you can submit your questions by e-mail.

To arrange for testing your physician may contact either the Molecular Testing Lab at MCTP or MLabs at the University of Michigan:

  1. Molecular Testing Lab at MCTP: (734) 232-0834
  2. MLabs for information on specimen procurement and handling (click here for MLabs website).