Biomarkers & Genomic Testing

Genomic testing and biomarker testing in prostate cancer can tell you more about your specific diagnosis. This information may help you and your doctor decide which treatment is best for you.

Genetic testing for prostate cancer

Genomic testing in prostate cancer

Genomic testing in prostate cancer looks at how certain sets of genes in the tumor interact and function. It can be performed on both biopsy tissue and on tissue from an entire prostate following a prostatectomy (removal of the prostate by surgery). The activity of these genes can influence the behavior of the tumor, including how likely it is to grow and spread. 

Genomic testing may help you and your doctors decide on a treatment. These tests may be most helpful if you're newly diagnosed with prostate cancer that is still confined to the prostate. However, if you've had surgery and want to understand the risk of recurrence, you may also find this information helpful. By looking at the genetic makeup of the prostate cancer, genomic tests may help predict whether your prostate cancer will grow slowly or aggressively.

This is different than genetic testing, which is a test to find out if you have a genetic (or germline) mutation. Genetic testing in prostate cancer is important because an inherited gene mutation may be responsible for up to 10% of all prostate cancers. A family history increases a man’s risk for prostate cancer by up to 60%.

Genomic testing may also be called biomarker testing, tumor testing, or somatic testing. View the table below for more information, and keep scrolling for more on biomarker testing, a broader term for genomic testing.

A table summarizing the differences between germline and somatic testing for prostate cancer

Biomarker testing and precision medicine

Biomarker testing and precision medicine are somewhat newer terms in the cancer space. Biomarker testing looks for genes, proteins, and tumor markers that tell us more about your specific cancer. Biomarker testing is sometimes called genomic testing, particularly when its looking at the prostate cancer tumor tissue. Biomarkers can help doctors diagnose and monitor cancer and can also affect how some treatments will work for you.

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is the most widely used prostate cancer biomarker, but new and emerging blood, urine, and tissue biomarkers are also now available. The prostate health index, or PHI, as well as the 4KScore, are biomarker tests that help in diagnosing prostate cancer and identifying more aggressive disease, which also may reduce the number of prostate biopsies performed in men with low PSA levels.

Biomarker testing - also called comprehensive genomic profiling (CGP), tumor testing, molecular profiling, tumor subtyping, or somatic testing - uses a single test to examine a person’s genes. The test looks for mutations in genes that are relevant in cancer and that may drive cancer growth. Some of these biomarkers tell your doctors how aggressive your prostate cancer might be. Biomarker testing may help you and your doctor better understand your particular cancer and choose the best treatment option for you.

Remember, biomarker testing is not the same as genetic testing. Genetic testing tells you which genes have been inherited - passed on to you by your parents.

Prostate cancer biomarker tests

Many prostate cancer biomarker tests are available. Some are used after a biopsy, some are used after a prostatectomy, and some are used if you have localized or advanced prostate cancer. These tests include Decipher®, FoundationOneLiquid CDX®, Genomic Prostate Score® (GPS) Test, ProstaVysion®, Prolaris®, PORTOS®, OncoTypeDX®, ArteraAI Prostate Test®, and others.

Talk to your doctor about when you should have your tumor tested and which biomarker test is right for you.