Here is an U.S. New & World Report story picked-up by HealthDay this week:
Gene Test May Someday Improve Prostate Cancer Treatment
U.S. scientists have developed a new experimental genetic test that may someday help doctors identify which patients require aggressive treatment.
Most cases of prostate cancers are not life-threatening but there is no reliable method to identify them. This makes it difficult for doctors to decide whether to monitor a prostate cancer patient to see if the disease progresses or to recommend immediate treatment such as surgery or radiation, the Associated Press reported.
As a result, overtreatment is a problem among prostate cancer patients. About 48 prostate cancer patients receive treatment for every life saved, according to Dr. Ronald DePinho of the Dana-Farber Cancer Center in Boston.
In research with mice, DePinho and colleagues found that the combined activity of four genes appeared to be associated with deadly prostate tumors. The team then turned to humans and found that these genes are also associated with lethal prostate cancer in men, the AP reported.
Diagnosis of life-threatening prostate cancer was 91 percent accurate when the experimental gene test was used with the standard combination of current indicators: age at diagnosis; indications of tumor spread; and an assessment of tumor cells under a microscope (Gleason score). This compares to an accuracy of 84 percent for the standard approach alone.
The results were published online Wednesday in the journal Nature.
While experts praised the research, they also said more work is needed.
"It's early still but it's pretty exciting," Cleveland Clinic's Dr. Eric Klein told the AP. "This is a step in the right direction, without question."
The research is "extremely interesting, promising, amazing work," said Dr. Angelo De Marzo, a professor of pathology, oncology and urology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore.
Anything that helps doctors diagnose cancer more effectively works for me!
Feel good and keep smiling! Pat