It’s no secret how prostate cancer poses a huge risk among Australian men, impacting thousands of lives year on year.
Nowadays, we have many tools to help detect and grade the disease, allowing medical teams to determine the best course of treatment per patient to manage or cure it.
Genomic prostate scoring is one such way patients are assured of receiving the right treatment for their cancer. Here’s how.
What is a Genomic Prostate Score?
Conventional cancer testing relies on assessing a person’s blood cells to determine whether they are ‘normal’ or ‘abnormal’, with the latter viewed as a trigger for cancer.
Genomic testing goes a step further and looks closely at a patient’s genes to predict the likelihood of any cancer tumours spreading.
The method of genomic testing has been used effectively for breast cancer analysis and management for many years and is becoming increasingly relevant to prostate cancer risk assessment. The outcome of the test is a Genomic Prostate Score (GPS), a figure ranging from 0-100 that helps the medical team determine the level of risk and make informed decisions about how to treat the patient. The higher the score, the more chance of cancer tumours becoming aggressive later.
Genomic prostate scoring is now used frequently by urologists to help them understand the activity of abnormal prostate cancer cells in line with a person’s genes – and, more importantly, whether early intervention by radical surgery is the best (or only) course of action to stay one step ahead of the cancer.
Benefits of Genomic Prostate Scoring in treating cancer
Thousands of men across Australia receive a positive diagnosis of prostate cancer. For many, the disease is classified as low-grade and will never amount to anything serious, making it easier to manage or cure. For others, the cancer becomes aggressive and requires urgent treatment such as prostate surgery.
Yet even with a grading system, it remains extremely difficult to determine just how aggressive (or not) that particular cancer will likely become from one patient to the next. And some tumours that appear non-aggressive will become so – which poses a genuine problem for urologists supporting cancer patients.
Genomic scoring reduces the guesswork and gives medical teams a much clearer picture of the patient’s situation based on their DNA, allowing them to predict the cancer’s activity over time.
As such, it can point patients towards a suitable and successful treatment method.
For example, patients with a low-risk GPS can benefit from non-invasive treatment such as Active Surveillance. This is particularly beneficial to newly diagnosed patients, providing a means to manage the cancer without surgery or chemotherapy.
On the other hand, patients with a high-risk GPS might be steered towards definitive treatment much quicker – some of whom would have gone unnoticed had they only received conventional testing.
Put simply, Genomic Prostate Scoring for many patients proves the difference to receiving successful treatment.
How is a Genomic Prostate Score Generated?
Several test types are used to produce a Genomic Prostate Score, with slightly different objectives.
The Oncotype DX prostate cancer test is a clinically validated assessment investigating 17 genes to provide a Generic Prostate Score.
It uses body tissues taken during a biopsy, which are then tested to predict the risk of the cancer mutating further. The resulting data helps a urologist to determine whether to proceed with radical treatment such as a prostatectomy or to use less invasive methods to manage the cancer effectively.
Oncotype DX is a widely used GPS test in Australia.
Decipher and Prolaris
These tests have the same objective: to provide a 10-year prostate cancer risk assessment. Measuring cell cycle progression (CCP), combined with the Gleason and PSA scores, determines the likelihood of the cancer mutating. These tests can also predict the cancer outcomes after radical surgery.
Preparing for Genomic Testing
Patients referred for genomic testing undergo a biopsy to retrieve the tissue sample used in the test. This quick and simple procedure requires minimal preparation and is usually completed in just minutes.
If your GP or urologist has referred you, they will explain in full how the testing works and all you need to know to prepare.
A biopsy and GPS testing will help determine the risk of any cancerous cells worsening. A procedure that takes just a few minutes to complete can be the difference between invasive surgery and non-invasive management.
Katelaris Urology is a leading provider of genomic testing for prostate cancer in Sydney.
With extensive experience in prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment, Dr Katelaris and team can help you to overcome or manage your prostate cancer and lead an active life.
If you have a question about genomic scoring for prostate cancer, contact our team to book an appointment with Dr Katelaris.
Frequently Asked Question
How long does genomic prostate scoring take to complete?
Genomic Prostate Scoring uses body tissues taken from a biopsy. The biopsy itself is a relatively quick procedure completed in minutes, although you may have to wait for an hour or so before the procedure at a hospital or private urologist, depending on their scheduling. From here, the analysis team will likely take 1-2 weeks to provide your results.
How much does a Genomic Prostate test cost?
The cost of GPS testing in Australia varies from $50 to $2000. Some patients may be eligible for treatment under Medicare – ask your GP for more details.
Is Genomic Scoring for prostate more accurate than other cancer tests?
The GPS testing procedure is not a replacement for conventional cancer testing; rather, in comes in addition to other tests and determines the risk of cancer spreading, plus a suitable method of treatment.