Genetic Testing at Prostate Cancer Diagnosis and Monitoring May Lead to Better Treatments

Genetic Testing at Prostate Cancer Diagnosis and Monitoring May Lead to Better Treatments
Patients with prostate cancer should be monitored for genetic changes not only at the time of diagnosis but also during treatment as the disease progresses, according to Prof. Tapio Visakorpi from the University of Tampere in Finland. Knowing the genetic landscape of patients will lead to more tailored treatments, ultimately improving patient's outcomes, he said. "Most of the prostate cancers diagnosed are relatively benign and don't necessarily require active treatment. On the other hand, some prostate cancers are highly aggressive. A major problem from the treatment perspective is that once the disease has been diagnosed, the clinical course is difficult to predict reliably," Visakorpi said in a press release. Understanding the underlying mechanisms of prostate cancer in individual patients is necessary to identify which treatment is more likely to work. Visakorpi, who is studying the molecular biology of prostate cancer with funding by the Academy of Finland, is aiming to improve the knowledge we already have on potential targets for prostate cancer treatment and has been trying to improve the method that is currently employed to examine tumor samples. "Recent genome studies have shown that even though prostate cancer initiates in a single cell of origin, several cancer cell subpopulations with different genome types emerge as the disease progresses. This is not a single disease; several mechanisms lead to the emergence of the disease," he said. "Therefore, it's important to identify those genome defects in each patient that occur in all cancer cells — that is, the so-called truncal mutations, and target the treatment to them." "This requi
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Inês Martins holds a BSc in Cell and Molecular Biology from Universidade Nova de Lisboa and is currently finishing her PhD in Biomedical Sciences at Universidade de Lisboa. Her work has been focused on blood vessels and their role in both hematopoiesis and cancer development.

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