A prostate cancer diagnosis often comes with the tough decision about whether to treat it with surgery or radiation, or safely monitor it using "active surveillance."
Now, there's a test that may help make those decisions easier.
Dr. Eric Klein from the Cleveland Clinic explains, "These tests allow us to improve both the physician's and the patient's confidence that yes, they have a low grade cancer and it's safe to watch and more importantly, and for the rare patient, that yeah it looks like a low grade cancer but it's biologic potential is much greater than you would anticipate from looking at a microscope."
Many men opt to treat their prostate cancer because they're afraid of dying from the disease, even though their tumor may be slow growing and never cause any harm.
According to Dr. Klein, until recently, about 90% of men with low grade cancers, who probably don't need to be treated, chose to do so.
"Urologists have been criticized for being too aggressive in treating them and not embracing active surveillance. So, this allows us to embrace active surveillance with more confidence," said Dr. Klein.
There are currently two genomic tests available that grade the aggressiveness of a cancer once it has been diagnosed through a biopsy. Dr. Klein says it may prevent the need for a second biopsy to be sure a deadlier cancer wasn't overlooked.
"The test is done on the microscope slides of the biopsy that was already done. It gets sent to the company, they scrape off the DNA, they scrape off the tumor and they measure the gene expression," said Dr. Klein.
According to the American Cancer Society more than 238,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. this year.