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Genetic Testing and Biomarker Testing

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Risk Management & Treatment > Cancer Treatment > By Cancer Type > Prostate > Genetic Testing and Biomarker Testing

Glossary on

Genetic Testing and Testing for Cancer

This section covers the following topics:

Genetic testing for inherited mutations

About 10 percent of cancers are caused by an . Genetic testing can help people with cancer and their relatives learn more about their cancer risks and medical options. 

Who should get genetic testing?

Genetic testing for hereditary cancer is recommended in the following situations:

  • cancers that are in the high-risk or very-high-risk group
  • prostate cancer
  • cancer in people with a personal or family history of other cancers

See our section on genetic testing for a more complete list. 

Genetic testing for treatment selection

Certain types of cancer treatment work best in people who test positive for an

  • Men with mCRPC who test positive for an in , , , ,  or other gene linked to a certain type of damage repair may benefit from a type of known as a
  • Men with  whose cancer got worse on standard therapy may benefit from treatment with the drug Keytruda (pembrolizumab). 

(tumor) testing

tests look at samples of blood, tumor or other tissue for changes caused by cancer. These tests can give doctors clues about the cancer, including:

  • how fast the cancer is growing
  • which treatments are most likely to work
  • whether or not the cancer is responding to treatment or growing
  • whether or not the cancer has come back after remission

Biomarkers for treatment selection

tests may be used to select treatments, and help patients avoid side effects from treatments that will not work for them. tests used to select a treatment are sometimes called "companion diagnostic tests." See our Testing section for more information. 

 testing for low-risk- or favorable-intermediate-risk cancer

For men with a low-risk or favorable-intermediate risk cancer and a life expectancy of > 10 years, multi-gene tumor testing can help predict how aggressive the cancer is and guide treatment decisions. multi-gene tumor tests include:

  • Decipher
  • Oncotype DX
  • Prolaris
  • ProMark

Biomarkers for or for metastic cancer

Tests can predict which cancers are likely to respond to treatment with a known or .

Biomarkers for selection

PARP inhibitors are a type of that work best for treating cancers with certain abnormalities. Several different PARP inhibitors have been approved for treating metasatic cancer. 

  • People with tumor mutations in these genes may benefit from treatment with a PARP inhibitor:
    • , ,BRCA1, , CDK12, , FANCA, FANCL, , RAD51B, , MRE11A or 

Biomarkers for selection

  • An abnormality known as “" (MSI-H or ) also known as "" ( or ).
    • cancers are common in people with a  gene mutations. People with advanced/metastatic   cancer may respond well to an  agent. 

Other biomarkers

Additional tests that may be used for metastic (mCRPC) include: 

  • AR-V7 testing is a blood test that looks for a form of the androgen receptor that makes androgen therapy less effective. AR-V7 testing can help identify patients who would not benefit from androgen receptor therapies.
  • An imaging test uses a  to find tumors with the  PSMA. Tumors with PSMA are more likely to respond to the treatment Pluvicto.  

Get Support
Get Support

The following organizations offer peer support services for people with or at high risk for cancer:

Paying For Care
Paying For Care

Paying for testing

Insurance companies are required to cover the costs for cancer treatment. Health plans may vary on the amount of out-of-pocket costs and coverage for specific doctors, facilities, tests or treatments. Your doctor's office and treating hospital should disclose how much your treatment may cost you and work with you on a plan to cover the cost of your care.

Medicare will cover the cost for genetic testing and testing for people who meet certain criteria. Medicare coverage varies based on where you live. Visit this site to find and contact your regional Medicare provider for more information about coverage. The Medicaid website has a link to state Medicaid programs, which list specific eligibility for each state.

If you need information about finding an insurance plan, watch our video: Choosing Wisely: How to Pick Insurance Plans.Visit our Health Insurance Appeals page for additional information on insurance appeals. 

Some laboratories have assistance programs that help cover the cost for tumor testing: 

Organizations that offer co-pay assistance:

Other resources:

  • The American Cancer Society provides information and resources on covering the cost of cancer care. Public assistance, such as Medicaid may be available if you are ineligible for other programs. 
  • Triage Cancer offers tools and resources to help individuals cope with the financial aspects of a cancer diagnosis.

Open Clinical Trials
Open Clinical Trials

The following studies are looking at PARP inhibitors and similar agents for treating people with advanced  cancer.  

Other clinical trials for people with  cancer can be found here.

Last updated August 17, 2023