New genetic test detects a high risk of aggressive prostate cancer

Scientists have reported a new test that can predict which prostate cancer patients are at the highest risk for aggressive cancer and indicate whether they are at increased risk for treatment failure. The test was reported in the European Association of Urology conference and was published in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

According to researchers, this test can provide men with a better understanding of dealing with prostate cancer risk, which is considered the most common cancer in men (although not always fatal).

Current screening methods, especially PSA blood tests, can detect cancer, but do not always identify the level of risk for developing aggressive cancer and so do not suggest suitable treatment options. This can make it difficult to detect men with a high risk for prostate cancer who require prompt treatment.


Level of aggressiveness of genes causing prostate cancer

This new research discovered the basis for a simple blood test that may help predict the risk for aggressive prostate cancer. Extensive research on the genetics of prostate cancer has been conduced in recent years and over a hundred gene mutations have been detected, but these were mostly detected in only a small number of men. Research has recently focused on Kallikrein genes located on chromosome 19.

This group of 15 genes is connected by molecules that break down into protein.

The PSA test, a well-known test for prostate cancer, measures the amount of a specific antigen in the prostate gland. This test is based on the KLK3 gene, one of the kallikrein gene family.


The research process

Canadian researchers from the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research conducted an intensive search for each of the small mutations in the kallikrein genes in a large group of 1,858 men with aggressive prostate cancer. These men were from three groups from Switzerland, Canada, and the United States. Researchers showed that variations in the Kallikrein 6 gene were linked to a more aggressive form of prostate cancer.

According to researchers, these gene mutations are found in around 6-14% of men and are considered the most common genes, however, their link to aggressive prostate cancer remained unclear until now. Variations in the KLKy6 gene predicted treatment failure after surgery or radiation therapy, in a Canadian group of men.


Innovation: predicting treatment failure

Researchers found that among men with prostate cancer who underwent surgery or radiation therapy, the gene mutations detected were hereditary. These men were found to be at a risk that was three times higher for treatment failure, which means they were at a risk of recurrence that was three times higher compared to men with prostate cancer who were not gene mutation carriers.

This is a significant increase in risk, men with these gene variations were also at a greater risk for aggressive prostate cancer which accounts for 10-15% of all prostate cancer cases and leads to a greater mortality rate.


Research findings

To understand the implications of this research’s finding on the treatment of men with prostate cancer, it should be noted that this is a new test that is still in research and is not yet available to the public until confirmed by further studies.

According to initial conclusions, men diagnosed with high PSA levels but a biopsy did not confirm cancer can greatly benefit from this test in planning further diagnostic tests and understanding possible ways to treat cancer.


Improved tests for prostate cancer

Research allows exploring improved screening methods for men in risk for prostate cancer, such as those with a family history of this condition. This new test can help develop more advanced cancer screening tests in the future. Following this research, the Institute of Cancer Research in London has determined that identifying signs of aggressive cancer in prostate cancer patients can help focus on more beneficial treatment.

The role of genetics in determining the course of cancer treatment is becoming more significant, this new tests results play an important part in detecting gene variations that could become a routine part of prostate cancer screening in coming years.


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