Portable Prostate Cancer Test May Help Reach Underserved Men

Proof-of-contest is inexpensive and quantifies specific antigens from a drop of blood within minutes.

A portable and rapid prostate cancer screening kit could help provide early warning to individuals with higher incidences of prostate cancer, particularly those with limited access to health care.

The test, described in Current Research in Biotechnology, is inexpensive and uses a test strip and a small cube-shaped 1.6-inch reader to quantify prostate-specific antigens (PSA), a marker of prostate cancer, from a drop of blood within minutes.

“We’ll be able to take a drop of blood in a community setting such as a barbershop and be able to deliver results in 10 to 15 minutes right there, which can indicate when somebody needs to come in for further tests,” Saurabh Mehta, ScD, a Janet and Gordon Lankton professor in the division of nutritional sciences at Cornell University, said in a statement. “It’s creating that first point of contact that hopefully builds rapport and brings health care services to the people at the point of need.”

The kit comes with a test strip that is similar to those found in at-home COVID-19 antigen or pregnancy tests. Users draw a drop of blood and then appls it to the test strip. In about 15 minutes, 2 lines appear on the strip.

The color of the 2 lines is the result of 150-nanomete gold nanoshells, which greatly enhance the test’s sensitivity to detect PSAs and make the lines appear more intense in their presence, Balaji Srinivasan, a research associate of Mehta’s, said in the statement.

The cube reader senses the intensity of test strip lines and then calculates and displays a measurement of PSA concentration in the blood.

“Another advantage of test strips is that the technology to make them really cheap or mass produce them has been around for many years,” Srinivasan said.

He estimates that PSA test kits may be mass produced and sold for a few dollars each.

This could help reach underserved populations with more accessibility, like Black men, who frequently do not have access to prostate cancer PSA screenings and are diagnosed with more advanced prostate cancer, contributing to disproportionately higher mortality rates, according to the statement.

“There is a need for increasing access to PSA screening among African American men who are otherwise not able to get tested periodically, and one of the ways is we take the test to them at various community settings,” Srinivasan said.

Although a different PSA test kit by a private company is also FDA-approved it works by putting a blood sample into a microfluidic channel and has a large bench-top analyzer, according to the statement

The investigators have received a notice of award from the Department of Defense to further develop this area of research and test the device in underserved neighborhoods in New York in partnership with Weill Cornell Medicine investigators.


Portable prostate cancer test may help reach underserved men. EurekAlert. News release. January 4, 2022. Accessed January 6, 2022. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/939263