Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

Prostate Cancer Gene Test Coming Soon

Test Screens for 5 Genetic Variants and Will Be Available in Months, Researchers Say
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Jan. 16, 2008 -- Scientists at Wake Forest University plan to start offering a new gene test for prostate cancer risk within months.

The test screens men's blood or saliva samples for five genetic variants linked to prostate cancer. Once those blood or saliva samples arrive at the researchers' lab, the test takes about a week.

"The genetic findings in our paper can be used now, and we plan to make the test available in the next few months," says Jianfeng Xu, MD, DrPH, of Wake Forest's Center for Human Genomics, in a statement from Wake Forest University.

Xu's team describes the test in today's advance online edition of The New England Journal of Medicine.

Prostate Cancer Gene Test

Xu and colleagues identified the five genetic variants based on blood samples from on more than 4,600 Swedish men, including nearly 2,900 prostate cancer patients.

The goal was to see if those variants could identify the prostate cancer patients. Each variant, by itself, was so-so at that task. But together, the variants did a better job.

For instance, prostate cancer patients were up to five times more likely to have at least four of the variants.

Family history drove those odds higher. Prostate cancer patients with a family history of prostate cancer were more than nine times as likely to have at least four variants.

The findings are "further evidence that prostate cancer has complex and multifactorial origins," writes editorialist Edward Gelmann, MD, of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at New York's Columbia University.

Who Should Get the Prostate Cancer Gene Test?

In the journal, Xu's team cautions that more work is needed "to test the value of these findings in assessing the risk of prostate cancer in individual men."

In his statement, Xu explains why the test will be made available anyway.

"We plan to offer the test now because we believe that some men and their physicians will want to take advantage of these findings -- knowing the test will be refined over time," says Xu.

Xu -- who co-founded Proactive Genomics, the company that will offer the test -- doesn't yet know which men are the best candidates for the test.

Today on WebMD

man with doctor
Symptoms, risks, treatments
man coughing
Men shouldn’t ignore
prostate cancer cells
What does this diagnosis mean?
doctor and male patient
Is it worth it?
cancer fighting foods
15 Cancer Symptoms Men Ignore
Prostate Enlarged
Picture Of The Prostate
Prostate Cancer Quiz
screening tests for men
Prostate Cancer Symptoms
Vitamin D