Proteomic discovery of non-invasive biomarkers of localized prostate cancer using mass spectrometry

Nat Rev Urol. 2021 Dec;18(12):707-724. doi: 10.1038/s41585-021-00500-1. Epub 2021 Aug 27.


Prostate cancer is the second most frequently diagnosed non-skin cancer in men worldwide. Patient outcomes are remarkably heterogeneous and the best existing clinical prognostic tools such as International Society of Urological Pathology Grade Group, pretreatment serum PSA concentration and T-category, do not accurately predict disease outcome for individual patients. Thus, patients newly diagnosed with prostate cancer are often overtreated or undertreated, reducing quality of life and increasing disease-specific mortality. Biomarkers that can improve the risk stratification of these patients are, therefore, urgently needed. The ideal biomarker in this setting will be non-invasive and affordable, enabling longitudinal evaluation of disease status. Prostatic secretions, urine and blood can be sources of biomarker discovery, validation and clinical implementation, and mass spectrometry can be used to detect and quantify proteins in these fluids. Protein biomarkers currently in use for diagnosis, prognosis and relapse-monitoring of localized prostate cancer in fluids remain centred around PSA and its variants, and opportunities exist for clinically validating novel and complimentary candidate protein biomarkers and deploying them into the clinic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Early Detection of Cancer / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Spectrometry*
  • Prognosis
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Proteomics / methods*
  • Risk Assessment


  • Biomarkers, Tumor