‘Genetic signature’ can identify cancer risk

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A NEW “genetic signature” to identify prostate cancer patients at high risk of their cancer recurring after surgery or radiotherapy has been developed by researchers.

The breakthrough announced today by experts from Canada could help as many as half of men whose cancer returns after spreading outside the prostate gland.

Prof Robert Bristow, from the University of Toronto, will tell the European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology in Vienna how his team has developed the signature based on the DNA of a patient’s prostate cancer that can accurately predict treatment failure in 80 per cent of cases.

“Men who fail treatment within two years may be at the highest risk of dying from their prostate cancer,” he said.

“Existing methods for identifying high-risk patients are imperfect, so new tests are required that are better at predicting which patients will have their cancer recur. These men can then be offered additional treatments, such as chemo- and hormone therapy, that will combat the prostate cancer throughout their entire body, rather than therapies solely focused on the prostate, in order to improve their chances of survival.”

The researchers need to validate the test over the next three years in larger groups of patients to ensure that it will work successfully in hospitals worldwide.

He added: “If all goes well, then this will lead to a new test for cancer patients that can be turned around in three days and will tell doctors which patients will do well with local treatment alone...and which will need extra treatment.”