New genetic test could help avoid unnecessary prostate cancer surgery

Men who develop prostate cancer could avoid having unnecessary surgery or radiotherapy thanks to a new, more precise genetic test which is being trialed in Leeds.

Starting this week, the study plans to recruit 100 men in the year ahead, offering the chance to participate to those who might benefit. It aims to understand the effect of the test on doctors’ and patients’ decisions about treatment, and on costs of using the test routinely in the NHS.

If a man’s test result shows that their prostate cancer is low risk, they may choose to avoid or delay having invasive treatment such as surgery or radiotherapy. In addition to the costs, those treatments have associated risks of bowel, urinary and erection problems.

Developed in collaboration with UK researchers and patients and used in countries around the world, the ‘Prolaris’ test identifies how quickly a man’s prostate cancer is growing and therefore the level of risk it poses over the next 10 years. Every man’s prostate cancer is different, so the study may lead to more personalized treatment for each individual, based on the biology of their tumor.

Head of the Leeds Centre for Personalised Medicine and Health (LCPMH) Dr. Mike Messenger said:

Personalized medicine means taking the approach that when it comes to treatment and care, one size does not fit all. This study explores how healthcare professionals and their patients react to being given more personalized information than usual tests can give about risk. We want to understand whether the test results influence what they decide to do next, and if so why and in what way.”

Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men in the UK, with nearly 50,000 new cases a year, equivalent to around 130 new cases every day.

Men who have already been diagnosed with prostate cancer at a hospital in Leeds will be invited to take part in this study. As part of their original cancer diagnosis, they will have had a small sample (a biopsy) removed from their prostate gland. This study uses what is known as a ‘biomarker’ test of that same tissue sample.

Men enrolled on the study will complete questionnaires to give feedback on how the test has influenced their decision making about treatment and their quality of life.

Consultant Urological Surgeon at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust Mr William Cross said:

Building on the state-of-the-art prostate cancer services offered by Leeds Teaching Hospitals, this exciting study is going to explore the application of what could be next generation of cancer diagnostic testing. Hopefully, more personalized diagnostic information will lead to better treatment decisions and outcomes.”

The Leeds Centre for Personalised Medicine and Health (LCPMH), hosted by the University of Leeds and part of the Leeds Academic Health Partnership, is coordinating the study. It designed the study in partnership with Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, the Leeds Institute of Health Sciences and the University of Leeds, and is working with Myriad Genetics, the US company that developed the ‘Prolaris’ test.

“We are excited to collaborate with Leeds and help improve the outcomes for men with prostate cancer,” said Gary King, executive vice president, International Operations at Myriad. “The Prolaris test will help ensure that men with prostate cancer can benefit from advances in genetic testing and personalized treatment plans.”

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