DNA Blood Tests to Be Used in Predicting the Outlook for Prostate Cancer Patients

November 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Prostate Cancer News

A new study by scientist from the University of Pittsburgh and funded by the American Cancer Society, the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, and the US National Cancer Institute is to determine if DNA blood test can be used to predict the outcome of treatment for those diagnosed with prostate cancer.

This is based on the fact that certain genetic abnormalities may be associated with cancer of the prostate.

The research is a comprehensive one will go a long way to determine outcome for prostate cancer treatment. Here are more details on this new study:

“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 the full excerpt.

Conclusively, with the above study, the treatment and cure for prostate cancer becomes clearer.

Men who have been diagnosed with the disease and their healthcare providers can now make more important decision in the process.

More so, if prostate cancer can be detected with blood test, then some of the more rigorous screening like the combination of PSA, Digital Rectal Exam, and biopsies would be minimized.

Hopefully, this latest study will provide the best outcome of treatments for those suffering from cancer of the prostate. Details of this study are published in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Pathology.

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