Blood test for prostate cancer ‘helps target treatment’

A blood test has been developed by scientists that could potentially pick out which men with advanced prostate cancer would benefit from a new drug treatment.

The test detects cancer DNA in the blood, which can help doctors check whether precision drugs are working.

Cancer Research UK said the test could ‘greatly improve survival’. But larger studies involving more men are needed to confirm if doctors could rely on the test.

Blood samples from 49 men with advanced prostate cancer were collected by researchers as part of the trial of a drug called olaparib.

Although it is seen as the future of cancer medicine, it is a targeted treatment, meaning that it does not work for everyone.

The drug was used to identify men who were not responding to treatment in four to eight weeks and to pick up signs that the cancer was developing and becoming resistant to the drugs.

Researchers from The Institute of Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust said the test could help target treatment better and reduce its side effects.

Dr Aine McCarthy, senior science information officer at Cancer Research UK, said: “The test has the potential to greatly improve survival for the disease by ensuring patients get the right treatment for them at the right time and that they aren't being given a treatment that's no longer working. Further studies involving a larger group of men will confirm if doctors should use this test when treating patients with advanced prostate cancer.”

Dr Matthew Hobbs, from Prostate Cancer UK, added: “The results from this study and others like it are crucial as they give an important understanding of the factors that drive certain prostate cancers, or make them vulnerable to specific treatments.”

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