Molecular Markers Help Assess Prostate Cancer Risk

September 18, 2014

One of the biggest challenges in diagnosing early stage prostate cancer is properly staging and grading patients to determine the best treatment plan.  Current methods such as clinical staging, PSA serum levels and Gleason scores can help but have limitations. Both patients and physicians need more accurate and objective predictors of recurrence of the disease.

After extensive review, The Urology Group has decided to evaluate two molecular markers on prostate biopsy tissue in certain patient populations. Molecular markers are fragments of DNA that have been identified as indicating certain results in the human body.

Confirm MDx is a molecular marker that helps distinguish patients with a “true” negative biopsy from those still at risk for undetected cancer.  If the Confirm MDx test is negative, the patient has a greater than 90% certainty of not having prostate cancer.  The test results are valid for 24 months, so unless something changes clinically, no repeat biopsy will be needed for two years.  If positive, the patient will have another biopsy and about 50% of those patients will be diagnosed with prostate cancer.

The Confirm MDx test helps keep men without prostate cancer from undergoing unnecessary additional biopsies and identifies high-risk patients who may require repeat biopsies and potential treatment.

Patients with newly diagnosed low-risk prostate cancer–and their physicians–need to know how aggressive the disease is. The second molecular marker, Oncotype DX, helps with that determination. The analysis looks at various pathways to evaluate how quickly the cancer has been growing. The test builds on traditional clinical and pathologic factors to provide additional, clinically relevant insight.

The Oncotype DX assay results provide an individualized risk assessment that can help a patient and his physician make a confident choice between active surveillance (watchful waiting) and immediate treatment.

Together, these two molecular markers may help provide a clearer picture of a patient’s condition and help his health care team make better patient-specific recommendations for his health and well-being.

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