NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - Mar 25, 2014) - A new prostate cancer blood test, currently in testing, may soon facilitate more precise prostate cancer diagnosis. Early findings indicate that gene mutations, similar to those identified in breast cancer screenings, may help experts more accurately predict a man's risk of aggressive prostate cancer. More widespread availability of the prostate cancer genetic screener is anticipated within the next year.
Prostate cancer is currently diagnosed through a combination of assessments, including routine prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood tests, a digital rectal exam (DRE), and a prostate biopsy. "While the PSA test is very valuable, it is not a prostate cancer specific test," explains David B. Samadi, MD, Chairman of Urology and Chief of Robotic Surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital. "Elevated PSA levels can indicate an enlarged prostate, prostate inflammation, or prostate cancer."
In vetting this new diagnostic tool, researchers are exploring how second-generation sequencing technology can be used to determine the frequency of mutations in 22 tumor suppressor genes and how those mutations correlate to prostate cancer risk and disease aggression. In an initial study, 191 men with strong family histories of prostate cancer were tested for the 22 tumor suppressor genes. Among the study participants, researchers identified 14 loss-of-function (LoF) mutations commonly associated with aggressive or advanced-stage prostate cancers.
Understanding how the frequency of mutations may predispose men to familial and/or aggressive prostate cancer may change the course of care. "In-depth assessment of an individual's genetic predispositions opens the door to tailored prostate cancer screening; individualized attention is always our goal," said Dr. Samadi.
Prostate cancer genetic testing could mean a more customized approach to prostate cancer prevention, screening, and treatment. The combination of known risk factors and genetic predispositions would allow men to make adjustments in diet and lifestyle, and give medical professionals the opportunity to screen in a very targeted way.
"My hope is that in the near future men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer can leverage genetic knowledge to make treatment decisions based on their individual disease aggression and recurrence risk," stated Dr. Samadi. "For example, if a man carries these genetic mutations we may preemptively start radiation after robotic prostate surgery to further reduce the risk of recurrence."
The study findings were published on February 20, 2014, in the British Journal of Cancer,