MEN with prostate cancer, the most common cancer in men in the UK, vary in response to treatment. New research suggests that a blood test may help to differentiate the men who are more likely to be responsive to treatment from those who are more likely to relapse.
Researchers from The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), London, UK, and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK, identified the liquid biopsy as a noninvasive technique that could provide tailored treatment in men with advanced prostate cancer. The study included analysis of more than 1,000 blood samples collected from 216 men at an advanced stage of the disease. The experts claimed that the liquid biopsy, which causes less physical pain than a tissue biopsy, would be able to identify if cancer was present in the blood in addition to tracking the disease development and response to treatment.
The men enrolled in the study were taking part in a clinical trial of the targeted drug abiraterone with or without the experimental drug ipatasertib. The patients were monitored after repeat blood tests and the results revealed that men who were most responsive to the treatment showed a decline of 23% in cancer DNA in their blood, while the men who did not show a complete response had a decline of 16%. DNA analysis was carried out and showed that specific genetic changes were associated with drug resistance and were indicative of a higher chance of early release.
The ease, frequency, and pain-free method with which the liquid biopsy can be performed may significantly increase patients’ quality of life. Prof Paul Workman, Chief Executive of the ICR, commented on the potential of the test: “These simple blood tests detect traces of cancer circulating in the bloodstream and help us anticipate cancer’s next move. They can help doctors come up with personalised treatment plans and to stay one step ahead of the disease.”