U.K. researchers present a new manner of determining prostate cancer aggressiveness in order to cut down on unnecessary treatment.
Today at the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Cancer Conference in Liverpool, England, scientists from Cancer Research U.K. presented the Polaris Test, a genetic test that measures the activity cell cycle genes, known to drive cell division, in order to determine whether a patient's prostate cancer is indolent or aggressive.
An estimated 238,000 men in the U.S. will be diagnosed with prostate cancer annually.
Testing cancer aggressiveness
The difference between indolent and aggressive cancers is obvious, but in the case of many prostate cancer patients who are well past middle-age, indolent tumors may not require any treatment at all.
Currently, the only test used is the Prostate-Specific Antigen test, which only tests for levels of PSA in the blood and doesn't indicate to doctors what grade the tumor is.
The Polaris test does require a tumor biopsy, after which doctors perform the actual genetic test. The result is a cell cycle progression (CCP) score, which indicates the activity of those genes.
High CCP means higher activity and likely a more aggressive tumor, and low CCP means the opposite.
Encouraging test results
Accuracy of the test was determined through a retrospective analysis of results from five different, prior studies of biopsy tissue. The Polaris test was able to differentiate between tumor types no matter the staging level.
Scientists noted that the time it takes to generate results from the Polaris test needs to be shortened, and they also need to determine how often this test may need to be carried out while a patient is under active surveillance.
Nevertheless, the successful development and implementation of such a test would save tens or maybe even hundreds of thousands of men in the world from undergoing entirely unnecessary treatments – and experiencing the subsequent side effects – while getting treatment quicker to the men who do need it.
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