New Genetic Test For Prostate Cancer

January 18, 2016 Updated: February 4, 2016

A new genetic test for prostate cancer has recently become available: Oncotype DX. This biopsy-based test, which is also used for breast cancer, can be combined with other measures to predict how aggressive a prostate cancer will be. It uses advanced genomic science to reveal the unique biology of a tumor, allowing patients and doctors to optimize decisions about treatment.

The test analyzes tumor genes extracted via a needle biopsy to predict the aggressiveness and biological makeup of the cancer. This is an advantage because neither of these things can be done otherwise without a pathological analysis of the prostate tissue, which requires that the prostate be surgically removed.

It measures the expression of twelve cancer-related genes representing four biological pathways and five reference genes, and these are then combined to calculate the Genomic Prostate Score (GPX). This biopsy-based score has been clinically validated as a predictor of aggressive prostate cancer.

The Oncotype DX test examines certain genes in a sample of your tumor, which are collected during a prostate biopsy. This allows the urologist to understand how those genes are interacting with one another and functioning. Determining the activity of the genes and how they influence and regulate the behavior of the prostate tumor gives a deeper understanding of how likely it is that your prostate cancer will grow and spread.

For men with an elevated PSA, high-risk for prostate cancer, or who’ve had a previous biopsy, Oncotype DX may be the next step in assessing the potential growth rate of the tumor or how aggressive the cancer currently is. This directly leads to which treatment option is right for the patient.

Three studies presented at the 110th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Urological Association last year showed this test improved the ability to assess the risks for patients with both high- and low-risk prostate cancers, and even reduced cost of overall prostate cancer care. It has also shown promise in helping to further examine the biology and development of prostate cancer in African-American men who are at a high risk for the disease.

Dr. David B. Samadi. (Courtesy David B. Samadi)
Dr. David B. Samadi.(Courtesy David B. Samadi)

Dr. David Samadi is the chairman of the urology department and chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital. He is a medical correspondent for the Fox News Channel’s Medical A-Team. Learn more at and visit Dr. Samadi’s blog: Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.