If you have had surgery to remove a prostate cancer tumor, having your tumor genetically sequenced may provide your doctors with more insight into the causes of your cancer and your subsequent treatment plan.
So far, scientists have identified approximately 20 known genetic mutations and pathways that cause or accelerate prostate cancer. Tumor sequencing identifies which of these genetic mutations may have caused your prostate cancer. Genetic mutations may be inherited or acquired (“somatic”); tumor sequencing will often catch both types of mutations, whereas germline genetic testing will only catch inherited mutations.
Thanks to research funded by the Prostate Cancer Foundation, we have many precision treatments have been developed based on this new taxonomy of mutations; still others are active areas that are in the works. It is the hope that someday, soon, all treatments will be administered with precision, based on results of your genetic tests and other available biomarkers. This new field of medicine, combining testing and treatment, is referred to as theranostics.
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Even if your doctor tells you that your local or locally advanced prostate cancer is clear, it may be useful to get your tumor sequenced, since we are now beginning to realize that some of these gene markers predict the aggressiveness and likelihood of recurrence of your cancer, though more research is needed to understand these patterns. Remember, genetic testing is not a panacea: it’s important to live a healthy lifestyle before, during and after prostate cancer treatment.
If you believe tumor sequencing may be right for you, the first step is always to talk to your doctor.
NCI-MATCH is a precision medicine cancer treatment clinical trial. Patients who qualify receive genomic sequencing of their tumors and receive precision therapies accordingly.
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