A low neutrophil count in men with an elevated PSA level may indicate a greater likelihood that a prostate biopsy will detect cancer, according to researchers.

Japanese investigators reviewed the medical records of 323 men who underwent transrectal ultrasound-guided 12-core needle prostate biopsy because of an elevated PSA level or abnormal findings on digital rectal examination.

Of the 323 patients, 203 (62.8%) had a positive biopsy and 120 (37.2%) did not. The neutrophil count was significantly higher in the negative biopsy group than the positive biopsy group (3.58 vs. 3.32 × 103 µL-1). Among 104 men with a neutrophil count below 2,900 µL-1, 78 (75%) had a positive prostate biopsy compared with 125 (57%) of 219 men with count above that neutrophil count, the researchers reported in Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases (2012;15:386-390).

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“The neutrophil count, which is a routine test and easily performed, may be a good indicator of the result of prostate biopsy, although this remains to be confirmed in a larger study,” the authors concluded. “Men with a low neutrophil count and increased serum PSA level should be strongly considered for prostate biopsy.”

The researchers pointed out that all men in the study were Japanese, so the results may not be extended to other races.