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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The Precision Medicine Revolution
Welcome to the world of precision medicine—where doctors can target each prostate cancer with new, more effective drugs. And this is just the beginning.
Terms to know from this article:
A mass of excess tissue that results from abnormal cell division. Tumors perform no useful body function. They may be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
The functional and physical unit of heredity passed from parent to offspring. Genes are pieces of DNA, and most genes contain the information for making a specific protein.
Checking for disease when there are no symptoms.
prostate-specific antigen (PSA): A substance produced by the prostate that may be found in an increased amount in the blood of men who have prostate cancer, benign prostatic hyperplasia, or infection or inflammation of the prostate.