DNA Blood Test to Predict the Life Threatening Prostate Cancer in Patients

August 18, 2012 by  
Filed under Prostate Cancer News

A new research from the University of Pittsburgh reveals the DNA test may help to determine the outlook for prostate cancer patients. The blood test may specifically reveal if the disease is life threatening or not.

It can help to determine whether there is need for the patient to be administered with treatments like chemotherapy or surgery. The research takes a look at the outcome of genetic abnormalities in various tissues after scanning. Details of this new study and the basis for it published online.

Below is an excerpt from the research:

“A blood test for men with prostate cancer could detect if the illness is likely to be life-threatening,” the Daily Mail has reported. In some cases prostate cancer can be benign, but in others it can be life-threatening and require treatment such as surgery or chemotherapy.

The news is based on research that looked at whether scanning for genetic abnormalities in various types of tissue could be used to predict whether prostate cancer would rapidly relapse after treatment. To conduct the research, scientists looked at samples of blood, prostate tumours and healthy prostate tissue from 238 men who had undergone surgery to remove their whole prostate gland. They compared genetic differences to the different outcomes the men experienced.

The researchers found that prostate cancer patients had high numbers of genetic mutations called “copy number variations”, in which sections of DNA are abnormally repeated or missing. Particular repeats and deletions were more common in patients who went onto have a rapid relapse, and the size of copy number variations tended to be larger in these patients as well. The researchers then used this information to create prediction models based on the DNA in different types of tissue samples.

This study is exciting because it raises hope that one day a test could help predict the outlook for patients with prostate cancer, which could in turn aid treatment decisions. However, these findings will have to be further validated, and a simple, inexpensive test developed and tested before this is a realistic option for doctors.

Where did the story come from?

The study was carried out by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and was funded by the American Cancer Society, the US National Cancer Institute and the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. The study was published in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Pathology.

The Daily Mail’s coverage of the story was generally accurate, although it may imply that the research could help discern benign prostate tumours from life-threatening ones before treatment. However, the research was conducted in patients after a round of treatment where they had already had surgery to remove all or part of the prostate.

Also, the Mail’s headline suggests that the test has been developed and is soon to be implemented, which is not the case. The story correctly stated that “it is likely to be several years before the academics are able to develop a blood test to predict the speed prostate cancer will spread.” Click here to read more on the research.

In conclusion, this new research is quite revealing and if validated will help to predict the best course of treatment for prostate cancer. Prostate cancer kills about 30,000 men every year in the US. It is the most common of all cancer diseases in men after skin cancer.

Hopefully with DNA test accurate test and accurate prediction of the disease, the best treatment will be achieved. Let’s hope that further studies will validate this. Moreover, it is likely to be less costly way to diagnose cancer of the prostate.

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