Testicular Cancer Researchers Develop Relapse Test

testicular cancer test

According to a press release being passed around the medical blog circuit this week, some testicular cancer patients may soon be able to work with their doctors to find an alternative to chemotherapy based on their genetic disposition to relapse.

Professor Janet Shipley of the London Institute of Cancer Research explains,

“Our research has led to the development of a test that can detect patients that will benefit from treatment up front and spare those who are at lower risk from the side effects of chemotherapy…Chemotherapy is extremely effective in treating testicular cancer, but it can have long-term consequences for a patient’s health and wellbeing. Patients deemed at low risk of relapse could simply be monitored, and potentially could avoid chemotherapy.”

Since these particular types of cancers tend to affect younger men, the consequences of extended chemotherapy treatment are even more devastating than usual. If a testicular cancer is going to return, it will most likely happen within just a few years of the initial diagnosis, but the effects of chemotherapy linger well beyond the short term for most patients. Sparing low-risk individuals this painful choice could be a boon for providers who struggle with follow-up care decisions. Those that test out of the moderate and high-risk genetic groups could opt for a short-term monitoring-only program, with the knowledge that the chances that their cancer returns are exceptionally low.

Medical Daily writes that the way the test works is multifaceted and complex, but that the process was subsequently approved after a successful preliminary study.

“Researchers tested levels of CXCL12, an antimicrobial gene; the percentage of the tumor showing cancer stem cells; and whether or not blood vessels were present in the tumor…The researchers validated the test with an additional 80 patients after the initial study.”

The organization behind these tests suggests that they are effective even when there is no evidence that a tumor is recurring. If there’s confidence in the results, more testicular cancer patients should be given as much information as possible to factor into their healthcare decisions.

image via Wikimedia Commons