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Genetic, Molecular Testing Shows Promise in Prostate Cancer

While a replacement for the prostate-specific antigen test for early screening of prostate cancer has not yet been identified, prognostic tests currently available and those under development offer hope for more targeted treatments when the disease is diagnosed. Clinicians say molecular and gene tests can offer insights that better guide the treatment decision-making process.

Molecular assays are already making headway in helping doctors make patient-specific treatment decisions. Recent guidelines published by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network suggest the use of tumor-based molecular assays to enable doctors to make more informed treatment recommendations based on the nature of a specific tumor. These tests, for example, can help doctors gauge risks for biochemical progression after prostatectomy or radiation. They can also offer insights into the likelihood metastatic cancer might form. Genetic testing is also very much in play as a possible way to better guide therapy choices based on the likelihood of a positive response.

A number of molecular tests are currently available for use, but are often reserved on a case-by-case basis that hinges on gauged tumor type and overall risk. While some tests are available, research is ongoing to create others that might offer more informative predictive biomarkers. How soon these gene-based tests might be available to help doctors more clearly determine risks in individual cases remains unclear.

While many of the 180,000 American men diagnosed with prostate cancer annually will find their cases are localized and low-risk that is not always the case. Gaining greater insights into the nature of a specific tumor may help doctors lower the number of deaths associated with this disease each year, which currently comes in around 26,000.

Men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer should talk with their doctors about treatment options available to them. If recommended or indicated, molecular tests may offer case-specific insights that can help in the decision-making process.