New test to help prevent overtreatment of prostate cancer

VELUX FONDEN supports a new research project on prostate cancer with DKK 5.500.000. Many men are being operated on unnecessarily for prostate cancer because doctors lack a test that can predict how prostate cancer will develop in the individual man. A new research project on prostate cancer will develop a new strategy for treating patients who have - or are suspected of having - prostate cancer.

Professor Torben Ørntoft and Associate Professor Karina Dalsgaard Sørensen from the Department of Clinical Medicine – Molekulær Medicinsk afdeling (MOMA), Aarhus University Hospital (AUH) lead the 4- year research project in a collaboration with Urology and Clinical Epidemiology at AUH and the Department of Public Health at Aarhus University.

Risk Test

The research group has developed a genetic Risk Test that can be used to identify the men who are most at risk of getting prostate cancer. The scientists will try the new genetic test on 5,000 Danish men in the Central Denmark Region when they see their doctor on suspension for prostate cancer. This study typically involves a blood test (called a PSA test) but experience has shown that excessive use of the PSA test leads to both over-diagnosis and over-treatment of many peaceful prostate cancer cases.

The purpose of the project is to use the new genetic test to find the 10% of men in the population who are most at risk of getting prostate cancer, and then offer them an annual PSA screening. The test will ensure early diagnosis of the aggressive form of the disease while it is still curable. On the other hand, men with normal genetic risk of getting prostate cancer would be advised not to get measured PSA again, unless they develop symptoms, thus reducing over-diagnosis and over-treatment of peaceful prostate cancer.

Test for aggressiveness

Another important aspect of the project is to develop and test new advanced blood and urine tests that can predict disease aggressiveness. MOMA has already identified some very promising molecular markers (so-called DNA methylation- and microRNA markers), which will be further tested in the new research project.

With the new tests for aggressiveness, scientists hope in the future to ensure that only the men who will benefit from surgery is offered surgery, while men who have a slow-growing prostate cancer are offered monitoring instead - thus avoiding the unpleasant side effects (primarily impotence and incontinence) from surgery with no real benefit.

Further information

Professor Torben Ørntoft, T +45 2819 2680