A diagnostic test was developed by Almac Diagnostics to understand the biology of prostate cancer tumors. The study led by Queen's University Belfast found that this test could improve the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer. The study outcomes have been published in Annals of Oncology.

The type of treatment required differs based on the type of prostate cancer (a slow-growing or an aggressive tumor) while understanding the type and their genetics could help in the development of an effective treatment.

Dr. Suneil Jain from the Centre for Cancer Research & Cell Biology at Queen's University Belfast led the study. Biopsies, scans, and blood tests are used in diagnosing prostate cancer. These tools could be used in determining the aggressiveness of cancer, in turn, help in the development of an appropriate treatment plan. However, the doctors repeatedly reported that these tools were not consistently effective.

Metastatic Assay, a gene expression biomarker was developed by Almac Diagnostics to diagnose the type of prostate cancer. Using the Metastatic Assay, the genetics of the tumors could be analyzed, which enabled a better understanding of the type of the tumors (slow-growing or extent of aggressiveness).

In the study, the researchers analyzed 248 previously treated prostate cancer patient biopsies using this Metastatic Assay. The diagnostic tool was found to be more effective than standard clinical tests.

Professor Richard Kennedy from Almac Diagnostics and Professor McClay from Queen's University Belfast reported that the assay was proven to be superior to conventional clinical tests in predicting aggressive disease through two independent studies. Surgical tissue was used in the previous study while the tissue taken from needle biopsy was used in the latter. They believed that the men who could benefit from treatment intensification could be identified.

Radiotherapy, chemotherapy, brachytherapy and hormone therapy are the treatment options for prostate cancer patients. Although radiotherapy is effective in treating prostate cancer, 20- 30% of patients relapse within five years. More intensive treatment including higher dosages of radiotherapy in some cases could minimize the chance of relapse and further deterioration. As there are several side-effects associated with the intensive treatment, a test that enables the right treatment to the right patient would be extremely beneficial in clinical practice, Dr. Jain explained.

The study provides the clinicians with the answers they require in identifying the cancers. Making a right decision on proper treatment can greatly benefit the patients. “ It's still early days, but it's great to see how the work taking place at the Movember Centres of Excellence has the potential to bring about real change for men. We look forward for further results,” said Dr. Iain Frame, Director of Research at Prostate Cancer.