Researchers working with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have found that the Metamark Promark prostate cancer test increases the quality-adjusted life-years and decreases healthcare costs for patients who are being screened for prostate cancer. In a paper published in October 2015 in T he Oncologist, the researchers showcased their findings.
According to the study, adding Promark to the existing National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) treatment guidelines for prostate cancer increased quality-adjusted life-years (QALY) by .04. The study also found a $730 drop in lifetime treatment costs. Interestingly, overall life-years, not QALY, dropped slightly by adding the test to the NCCN treatment guidelines.
Focusing on quality of life improvements is important because prostate cancer is often over-treated. Patients who have the very common Gleason 6 prostate “cancer” have a disease which lacks the hallmarks of cancer and these patients should not be treated like those who have high-grade prostate cancer. The Promark test appears to provide doctors a way to distinguish between low and high-risk patients, so those who need treatment can get it, while those who do not can continue to enjoy their quality of life.
In the United States, only about one out of every seven men diagnosed with prostate cancer will see his disease progress to the point that it is life-threatening. This event occurs only in those who have high-grade cancer. Yet, close to 90 percent of men with Gleason 6 prostate “cancer” will undergo unnecessary invasive treatment like the robotic prostatectomy. While more doctors are embracing an active surveillance approach for the common Gleason 6 “cancer”, over treatment (unnecessary treatment) is still common.
In the past, doctors had to rely solely on the pathologists’ determination as to whether a man had a high-grade prostate cancer or not. Biomarker tests like the Promark may allow doctors to distinguish better, potentially lethal prostate cancers from those which are not.