Researchers say a new test can better predict which men with prostate cancer will develop aggressive disease. The test analyzes genes from a biopsy sample and determines how risky the tumor is.
"I think that there's no question with these genetic tests, this being one of them, is the way of the future. It tells us a little bit more about that patient's individual tumor. So it's precision medicine," said Dr. Peter Carroll, UCSF chief investigator.
Carroll led a study of the new test from Genomic Health. He says knowing which patients are at greatest risk will help many men avoid unnecessary procedures that can cause serious side effects.
"The thought is that such information may allow men to more confidently, men and their providers, to more confidently actively surveillance in lieu of immediate treatment for their disease," Carroll said.
Each year, about 240,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in the U.S. It's estimated only 10 percent of men with low-risk tumors choose waiting and monitoring.
"It's a hard decision for men to choose to watch the cancer, especially in the light of the missing tools we have to decide how aggressive the cancer might be," said Dr. Edward Cherull of UH Case Medical Center. "This test may be one more tool."
Experts say while the test sounds promising, more time is needed to see how useful it will be going forward. It's also unclear whether insurance will pay for the test, which runs nearly $4,000.
Nearly 30,000 men will die of prostate cancer this year in the U.S.
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