Prostate Cancer Genetic Risk Test FAQ – For Doctors
- What’s the science behind this test?
Dr. Haiman and team have identified over 250 genes (“polygenic”) in the human genome that are implicated in prostate cancer risk. The research has uncovered certain sequence variations and mutations in these genes, and regulatory elements of genes that, taken together, determine an individual man’s lifetime risk. Looking at the genome-wide allelic variants in the DNA in a saliva or blood sample, a risk score can be calculated.
- How can I use this test to manage prostate cancer screening in my patients?
PSA screening is still the standard of care for population-based screening with informed decision-making. The score will provide you with additional, critical information you need about when and how to screen men based on their polygenic risk. The score tells you about the overall lifetime risk of prostate cancer, for patients at risk for slow-growing cancers as well as those at risk for more aggressive tumors that are more likely to be fatal. It is not prognostic, in that it will not tell you how likely a man is to die of prostate cancer. However, in combination with other biomarkers, it will be a powerful tool to stratify risk and inform early detection strategies.
- How is this important for my African American patients?
Statistically, the largest disparity in oncology is the excessive incidence of prostate cancer in African American men when compared to men of European descent. African American men are 76% more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer and more than twice as likely to die of prostate cancer vs Caucasian men. Men of African descent have, on average, a higher polygenic risk score than men of other ethnicities. Because of their greater disease burden, knowing an African American patient’s risk score and using it to inform screening decisions has tremendous potential to save lives.
- What are the next steps?
Dr. Haiman and his PCF-funded team plan to quadruple the size of the study cohort and optimize and validate the risk score, which may run until 2022. This will focus on African American men and will eventually be expanded to men of other ethnicities. Subsequent to that, there will be a clinical trial for U.S. men for FDA approval.
- How can I connect my patients to this important, potentially lifesaving research project?
Encourage them to sign up at pcf.org/smithtest. We will provide updates and notify them when enrollment in the U.S. clinical trial begins.