Test to spot most aggressive type of prostate cancer

A new genetic test has been developed that can distinguish the most aggressive forms of prostate cancer.

The test will help doctors tell apart slow-growing and aggressive cancers, enabling them to respond with the most appropriate treatments.

A testicular cancer tumour, seen under a microscope inside a testis. The tumour is between 10 and 30 years of age.
A testicular cancer tumour, seen under a microscope inside a testis. The tumour is between 10 and 30 years of age. Credit: ITV News

One of the biggest problems involved in treating prostate cancer is knowing what kind of disease a patient has. The new Prolaris test measures the activity of genes that drive cell division and provides a Cell Cycle Progression (CCP) score.

A one unit increase in CCP score was found roughly to double the risk of prostate cancer death or recurrence. The test should eventually mean that doctors will not have to "overtreat" patients with strong, debilitating drugs. Professor Jack Cuzick, the study author from University of London said:

"Over-treatment of prostate cancer is a serious issue so it's essential that we have an accurate way of spotting those cancers that pose an immediate risk. For patients with slow-growing tumours, it's far safer and kinder to watch and wait - only acting if the situation starts to change.

"We've shown this test is accurate at telling apart these two different tumour types at many different stages of treatment. [...]

"We want to try and shorten the time it takes to get the results and establish how frequently the test needs to be done in order to be most effective at spotting any changes."

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