What to Expect During Genomic Testing for Prostate Cancer


An expert explains what patients with low-grade prostate cancer can expect when undergoing genomic testing — and why the procedure is important.

Patients with low-grade, non-aggressive prostate cancer may opt for active surveillance — meaning that the disease is closely monitored — in lieu of upfront treatment. Recent findings showed that genomic testing, which is analyzing the molecular characteristics of the tumor itself, may lend insight as to which patients are at higher or lower risk of their cancer getting worse.

READ MORE: Active Surveillance Once Again the Preferred Option for Low-Risk Prostate Cancer

In a recent interview, Dr. Michael S. Leapman, associate professor of urology and program leader of the Prostate & Urologic Cancer Program at Yale Cancer Center in New Haven, Connecticut, discussed what patients can expect when they undergo genetic testing. He also mentioned that his team’s research showed that patients want to learn more about genomic testing and their results.

However, some individuals, he noted, reported not even knowing that the testing was done.

While pain or additional procedures are rarely associated with genomic testing, insurance coverage varies for the procedure, which could mean that some patients receive a bill in the mail. This can be anxiety-inducing for many patients reliant on insurance, Leapman explained.


You know, these genomic tests are taken from biopsy specimens or radical prostatectomy specimens. So … patients often don’t know about that; that’s one of the interesting things we found is they expect that they might need an additional sample or something has to be taken. And so there’s no pain from it, that this is taken from an existing biopsy.

The only issue that we found— which came up frequently— is that there can be financial concerns because there is variable coverage by insurance companies. So that was a consistent theme we found was that this can induce anxiety and concern about whether or not it will be covered. Even if it is covered eventually, there may be a period where patient receives a notification from their insurance company that they're reviewing it and that can induce anxiety.

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