By Ron Shinkman, Editor, Laboratory Industry Report
The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and Kaiser Permanente have concluded that a blood or urine-based laboratory test may be developed that can determine a patient’s genetic risk for developing prostate cancer.
The current way to diagnose prostate cancer without a biopsy is through testing levels of prostate specific antigens, or PSA, although in many instances it leads to the diagnosis of harmless tumors. Although the disease is eminently treatable if caught in its earliest stages, less than 30 percent live more than five years if the disease has metastasized in distant parts of the body. Prostate cancer kills 27,000 men in the United States every year.
UCSF and researchers with Kaiser’s Research Program on Genes, Environment, and Health came to this conclusion after comparing 7,783 men with prostate cancer and 38,595 men who are disease-free. They focused on 105 specific bits of DNA that are confirmed to be tied to prostate cancer risk. According to the study, men with combinations of DNA variants that placed them among the highest 10 percent for prostate cancer risk were more than six times as likely to be diagnosed with the disease compared to the men who ranked among the lowest 10 percent for prostate cancer risk.
Researchers said that men in the highest risk category have a risk of developing prostate cancer at a level similar to women who score at high risk for BRCA1 or BRCA2 testing.
“We developed a risk model that may have clinical value,” said John Witte a UCSF professor of epidemiology, biostatistics, and urology, who led the study, in a press release. “We also showed that there remain substantial undiscovered genetic risk factors for prostate cancer.”
The researchers said they would refine their work to better determine which patients might respond well to specific treatments. They have not said if they plan to create a test to bring to market.