Blood test to aid cancer treatment, Study
Blood test to aid cancer treatment, Study

Blood test to aid cancer treatment, Study

A simple blood test could help doctors to treat prostate cancer by identifying when treatment shifts from being helpful to harmful.

Scientists found that some treatments for prostate cancer were initially effective but in time began to actually drive tumour growth.

Scientists carried out complex genetic analysis of biopsies and blood samples from 16 men with advanced prostate cancer. They confirmed treatment with anti-inflammatory steroid drugs called glucocorticoids could favour the survival of malignant mutant cells.

In several patients, use of the drugs coincided with the emergence of “androgen receptor” mutations and progression of the cancer to more treatment-resistant forms.

Dr Gerhardt Attard, of the Institute Of Cancer Research in London, said: “Our study showed a steroid treatment given to patients with advanced prostate cancer and often initially very effective, started to activate harmful mutations and coincided with the cancer starting to grow again.”

Professor Paul Workman, the institute’s interim chief executive, said: “This important discovery reveals how some cancer treatments can actually favour the survival of the nastiest cancer cells, and sets out the rationale for repeated monitoring of patients using blood tests, to track and intervene in the evolution of their cancers.”


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