Blood test can help determine best treatment for advanced prostate cancer: Lawson Health Research Institute

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An international study involving London, Ont.’s Lawson Health Research Institute is showing promising results in the treatment of advanced prostate cancer.

In addition to Lawson, the study also involved the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City and Royal Marsden in London, England in addition to the molecular diagnostics company Epic Sciences.

“The challenge that we face in cancer, particularly in advanced cancers like advanced prostate cancer, is that we treat patients with the drug that we think is going to work the best,” said Dr. Alison Allan, a scientist at Lawson and chair of the department of anatomy and cell biology at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry.

“But oftentimes they’ll develop resistance and then we reach a decision point, or the oncologist reaches a decision point where they have to decide ‘what do we do next?'”

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Allan said the goal of the study was to provide enough evidence to show that a blood test or liquid biopsy that examines circulating tumour cells (CTCs) could help health professionals make that decision with more confidence.

The study involved 142 patients with advanced prostate cancer who had already undergone at least one round of hormone-targeting therapy without success and would be looking to switch to either a different hormone-targeting therapy or to chemotherapy.

The CTC test is already available in the U.S., but Allan is planning to work with the company behind it, Epic Sciences, to bring the test to Canada.

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