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A new prostate cancer test is available to doctors and patients. Genomic Health announced the availability of Oncotype DX Prostate Cancer Test at the American Urological Association (AUA) Annual Meeting in San Diego.
The new prostate cancer test is the first of its kind. This multi-gene test will help guide treatment decisions, allowing patients with low-risk prostate cancer to avoid invasive treatments such as radiation and radical prostatectomy. According to UCSF Department of Urology chair and professor, Peter Carroll, M.D., MPH, the new study results showed that information gotten from the Oncotype DX prostate cancer test “tripled the number of patients who can more confidently consider active surveillance and avoid unnecessary treatment and its potential side effects.
The test also identified a smaller number of patients who, despite seemingly low-risk clinical factors, had more aggressive disease and, would suggest that they consider immediate treatment.” This genomic tool will help distinguish between low-risk and high-risk prostate cancer at the time of the biopsy.
What is active surveillance?
Active surveillance is one treatment plan for prostate cancer patients. It involves careful and consistent monitoring of prostate cancer without surgically removing it. Patients who choose active surveillance get regular check-ups, periodic PSA tests, clinical exams, and sometimes biopsies. This plan allows them to monitor their disease for signs of cancer progression.
Currently, about half of the 240,000 men who are diagnosed with cancer each year in the U.S. are classified as low-risk through methods such as the PSA, Gleason Score, and physical exam. Even though low-risk patients have less than a 3% risk of cancer progression and the disease becoming deadly, 90% of low-risk patients choose to undergo treatments such as radiation and radical prostatectomy. With this new prostate cancer test, men can use their individual genetic information to help them make treatment decisions with more confidence and help low-risk men avoid unnecessary aggressive treatment.
How does it work?
Patients who are newly diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer need to know how aggressive their tumor is. The patient first gets a prostate biopsy sample taken with a needle. The Oncotype DX prostate cancer test is done on the biopsy sample, analyzing the genes in the tumor and indicating whether the cancer is likely to grow and spread. The genomic test measures the level of expression of 17 genes across four biological pathways, allowing it to predict the aggressiveness of prostate cancer.
The test results are reported as a Genomic Prostate Score (GPS), which ranges from 0 to 100, and this score is combined with other clinical factors. The GPS provides an accurate and individualized risk assessment, allowing the patient and his doctor to make a treatment decision between active surveillance and immediate treatment.
Read more in our Prostate Cancer Health Center.