Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in U.S. men. While some will require harsh therapies, many men will have cancers that grow slowly and don’t need to be treated right away or at all. Until nowm it’s been a waiting game.
Mike Lewis and Don Buck both have prostate cancer. Doctors told Lewis to watch his tumor, but wait on treatment.
“He said that in the mean-time I’m looking at this as something that [I’ll] probably die with, and not of,” Lewis said.
But Buck’s cancer became aggressive. “I had my prostate removed,” Buck said.
Dr. Eric Klein says these kinds of patients are difficult to identify at diagnosis. However, now there’s a new way. It’s called genomics. First, patients have a biopsy. Then, the test measures which genes are in the tumor.
“We can tell from that little amount of cancer how aggressive the cancer is,” Eric Klein, MD, Urologist, Cleveland Clinic, Ohio, said.
As many as half of all prostate cancers in the U.S. are low-risk. About 100,000 of men in this category undergo treatment, even though there’s only a 3 percent chance their disease will progress or become life-threatening.
“We now have the capacity to more accurately look someone in the eye and say, ‘Yeah, you do have a cancer, but it isn’t anything to worry about,’” Dr. Klein explained.
This same method has been used for years to help predict if chemotherapy is necessary for breast cancer patients who undergo surgery. Doctor Klein says he believes there will one day be a similar test for all types of cancer.
More information about the genomics test.