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Expert Discusses Unleashing Promise of Genetic Testing in Prostate Cancer

Danielle Bucco
Published: Monday, May 08, 2017

Christopher J. Kane, MD

Christopher J. Kane, MD

Genetic testing for patients with prostate cancer is poised to have a major impact on both screening and treatment selection; however significant advances are still needed, according to Christopher J. Kane, MD.

Kane, professor of surgery, chair, Department of Urology, UC San Diego Health, discussed the challenges and impact of genetic testing on patients with prostate cancer.

OncLive: What is the potential impact of genetic testing on prostate cancer?

Kane: Genetic testing for patients with prostate cancer could have a broad impact on both understanding who needs to be screened and who might benefit from screening. Right now, when we obtain a family history, many times patients don’t know what their parents or grandparents had depending on the generational details. Many of the older generations did not share their health problems, making it difficult for patients to give an accurate family history. Some know, but many do not. If you have a strong family history of prostate cancer, it influences your risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer, and therefore, influences the risk for your children.

In the future, we’re likely to get to a place where patients newly diagnosed with cancer will have extensive genetic testing. However, we’re not there yet. We still need to come up with guidelines based on our current technology, better understand who should be tested, how much testing should be done, and at what stage of diagnosis. We’re trying to wrap our heads around this rapidly changing field. 

What would you like to see next in genetic testing for prostate cancer?

I’m particularly interested in whether single-nucleotide polymorphism tests are going to be commercialized. Right now, those tests are not in the commercial space. If someone wonders if their risk for prostate cancer is higher or lower, other than their family history, which is an estimate of risk, there is no other way to test.
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