Past attempts at detecting prostate cancer (PCa) cells in voided urine by traditional cytology have been impeded by undesirably low sensitivities but high specificities. To improve the sensitivities, we evaluate the feasibility and clinical utility of photodynamic diagnosis (PDD) of prostate cancer by using 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA) to examine shed prostate cancer cells in voided urine samples.
One hundred thirty-eight patients with an abnormal digital rectal exam (DRE) and/or abnormal prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels were recruited between April 2009 and December 2010. Voided urine specimens were collected before prostate biopsy. Urine specimens were treated with 5-ALA and imaged by fluorescence microscopy and reported as protoporphyrin IX (PPIX) positive (presence of cells demonstrating simultaneous PPIX fluorescence) or PPIX negative (lack of cells demonstrating fluorescence).
Of the 138 patients, PCa was detected on needle biopsy in 81 patients (58.7%); of these 81 patients with PCa, 60 were PPIX-positive (sensitivity: 74.1%). Although 57 patients did not harbor PCa by conventional diagnostic procedures, 17 of these at-risk patients were found to be PPIX-positive (specificity: 70.2%). PPIX–PDD was more sensitive compared with DRE and transrectal ultrasound and more specific compared with PSA and PSA density. The incidence of PPIX–PDD positivity did not increase with increasing total PSA levels, tumor stage or Gleason score.
To our knowledge, this is the first successful demonstration of PPIX in urine sediments treated with 5-ALA used to detect PCa in a noninvasive yet highly sensitive manner. However, further studies are warranted to determine the role of PPIX–PPD for PCa detection.