Oct 13, 2010 - 2:44 pm
If true, this could be a game-changer; Lots more people might choose AS
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The Salt Lake City-based company, which offers a variety of genetics-based diagnostic tests for a number of diseases, including breast and ovarian cancer, introduced the Prolaris test in March.
Myriad president Peter Meldrum said the study by British researchers further demonstrates the product’s usefulness and the value of the information it is capable of providing physicians and their patients.
“In many men, prostate cancer tends to be very slow-growing, and in those cases it often is best to take a wait-and-see approach,” Meldrum said. “In other cases, though, it can be extremely fast-growing, and aggressive treatment may be the best option.”
Myriad initially received federal permission to market its test based upon the success it showed in determining the aggressiveness of cancerous tumors found in the prostates of men who had the gland removed.
The new study, directed by cancer researchers at the University of London, demonstrated those same results could be achieved prior to surgery using a tiny scraping of the tumor acquired through a process known as a “transurethral resection of the prostate,” or TURP.
Myriad said the study found cancer patients who the Prolaris test determined had nonaggressive tumors had a 98.5 percent chance of surviving their disease over a 10-year period. Those whose cancers fell in the middle range had a 60 percent to 75 percent chance of surviving, while those with the most aggressive tumors had only a 42.4 percent chance.
Analyst Alastair Mackay at GARP Research & Securities Co. in Baltimore said the Myriad study is “encouraging.”
He explained that when first introduced, the test results could be used only to help doctors determine the chances of cancer recurring somewhere else in the body because the prostate already had been removed.
“The new wrinkle to the story now is that this study demonstrates the Prolaris test can be used to help a man make a very difficult decision: ‘Do I get a radical prostatectomy or not,’ ” he said.
And that may be particularly important for Myriad if its encourages Medicare to look favorably on reimbursing for the cost of the $3,400 test.
“Initially, it didn’t make a very compelling case for reimbursement because the big expensive procedure, surgery, already had been done,” he said. But the new study may help convince Medicare to pay for the test because it could well reduce the number of unnecessary surgeries.
The results of the new study were presented earlier this week at the European Society for Medical Oncology Congress in Milan, Italy. After the results were announced, Myriad’s shares rose 10 percent and closed Tuesday at $18.66, up $1.74 for the day.
Lane Childs, of Western Urological Associates and St. Mark’s Hospital, said he may eventually use the Myriad test.
“It is always exciting to see and hear of new developments, but it often is hard to tell which ones will become clinically significant,” he said. “I applaud what Myriad is doing — trying to determine which cancers need aggressive treatment. And their test is certainly something that will bear watching.”