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Genetic Test Identifies Which Prostate Cancer Will Likely Recur

The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine has developed a 91 percent accurate genetic test to identify those patients whose prostate cancer is likely to recur. The new knowledge may lead to a clinical test, as well as future drugs and therapies.

Though prostate cancer is the second most common in men — skin cancer being first — most often the disease does not spread and is not fatal. This means that the cure can be worse — more risky — than the disease. The problem has been how to identify which patients should get aggressive therapies and which could avoid treatments with significant side effects. 

Dr. Joel Nelson, chair of urology at UPMC, said analysis of almost 300 prostate cancer tissue samples has shown DNA that had rearranged itself into eight new genetic fusions.   

“The important part of the finding is that these rearrangements were associated with a very high rate of recurrence of prostate cancer after a man had undergone surgery for treatment," he said. "In fact, if you had one of these rearrangements, the chance that you would have a recurrence was about 90 percent.”

If findings are validated in a larger group of patients, Nelson said a clinical test might be available in 12 to 36 months.

Charlee Song has been covering news for 90.5 FM since 2000—an opportunity she considers a great privilege. She finds almost every assignment interesting and really enjoys working with both the veterans and interns at WESA.