UK includes prostate cancer in new “stratified medicine” pilot program

According to a report in the Science section of the Financial Times, “the world’s first nationwide genetic testing programme for cancer patients goes into action in the UK next month, with support from the public, private and charitable ­sectors.”

The so-called “Stratified Medicine” initiative will include prostate cancer as one of six common forms of cancer that will be included in the pilot phase of this initiative.

During the pilot phase, specific samples will be collected from a series of patients and will then be tested for selected genes and mutations. We do not know (as yet) which genes and mutations have been selected as being most relevant for risk of prostate cancer. After a couple of years, Cancer Research UK — the program’s coordinators — hope that the pilot initiative can be converted into a a nationally implemented program in which personalized cancer management is based on the genetics of individual patients.
The “New” Prostate Cancer InfoLink sees the objective of this initiative as laudable. However, we are concerned (as we expressed just last Friday) that current information about the associations between the genetics of prostate cancer patients and the expression of specific protein and enzymes in men with specific types of prostate cancer may not be anything like sufficient to allow appropriately tailored treatment of patients based on this information. There may be other forms of cancer in which is this program is a viable initiative (at least for subsets of patients). We believe that expectations of the clinical value of a program of this type in the management of prostate cancer should be limited at the present time.

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