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Improving Risk Stratification Among Veterans Diagnosed With Prostate Cancer: Impact of the 17-Gene Genomic Prostate Score Assay
Julie A. Lynch, PhD, RN, MBA; Megan P. Rothney, PhD; Raoul R. Salup, MD, FACS; Cesar E. Ercole, MD; Sharad C. Mathur, MD; David A. Duchene, MD, FACS; Joseph W. Basler, PhD, MD; Javier Hernandez, MD; Michael A. Liss, MD, MAS, FACS; Michael P. Porter, M

Improving Risk Stratification Among Veterans Diagnosed With Prostate Cancer: Impact of the 17-Gene Genomic Prostate Score Assay

Julie A. Lynch, PhD, RN, MBA; Megan P. Rothney, PhD; Raoul R. Salup, MD, FACS; Cesar E. Ercole, MD; Sharad C. Mathur, MD; David A. Duchene, MD, FACS; Joseph W. Basler, PhD, MD; Javier Hernandez, MD; Michael A. Liss, MD, MAS, FACS; Michael P. Porter, M
The median GPS result in the prospective cohort was 26.5, with a range of 0 to 61. A wide range of GPS results existed within each racial group and among those exposed to AO and those who were unexposed (Figure 2). There was also a wide range of GPS results within each participating VAMC (data not shown). The distribution of GPS results within individual NCCN risk groups is illustrated in the Appendix. The median GPS result was lowest (25) in NCCN low-risk patients and highest (28) in NCCN intermediate-risk patients (Table 1 and Appendix). The median likelihood of favorable pathology (determined by integration of GPS and NCCN risk group) ranged from 84% in the NCCN very low-risk group to 58% in the NCCN intermediate-risk group.

Black veterans accounted for 15% of the untested patients and 21% of the tested patients (Table 1). Among untested black veterans, the use of AS was 66% compared with 61% in untested white veterans. In the tested cohort, the use of AS among black veterans was 80%, a 14% absolute difference between untested and tested veterans, while AS use was 72% in tested white veterans, with an 11% absolute difference. The median GPS result was lower among black veterans compared with white veterans (24 vs 27). The range of likelihood of favorable pathology, as predicted by GPS results, was wide in both groups and had substantial overlap (48%-89% in black veterans vs 32%-91% in white veterans).

Table 2 illustrates the frequencies of risk refinement in various NCCN risk groups following GPS testing. Biological risk (derived by synthesis of GPS result and NCCN risk group) was lower than expected, based on NCCN risk group alone, in 24 (12%) of tested patients and higher than expected in 13 (7%) of patients. The highest frequency of risk refinement (30%) occurred in NCCN low-risk patients. In this group, 20% of patients had a biological risk that was lower than expected based on NCCN risk alone, and 10% had a higher than expected risk. Risk refinement occurred in 12% of NCCN very low-risk patients and in 12% of intermediate-risk patients.

A wide variety of management strategies were documented in the untested and tested cohorts, including AS, radical prostatectomy, radiation therapy (external beam radiation therapy and brachytherapy), and multimodal therapy. AS was the most common initial management strategy in both cohorts, although there was substantial variability in use of AS across VAMCs in both the untested (range: 31%- 84%) and tested (range: 43%-93%) cohorts (data not shown). Sixty-two percent of the untested patients and 74% of tested patients (Table 1) were managed with AS at 6 months post diagnosis. This represents a 12% absolute and 19% relative difference in AS between untested and tested patients. The largest observed difference in AS between tested and untested men was among veterans under the age of 60; the rate of AS was 33% higher in the tested patients compared with the untested cohort (Figure 3). Across the NCCN risk groups, greater use of AS was most pronounced in the NCCN low-risk group; the rates of AS in untested versus tested men were 72% (n = 50) and 90% (n = 73), respectively. AS use also increased in tested veterans not exposed to AO (a 19%  absolute increase) (Table 1). The overall impact of GPS testing on treatment decisions in each NCCN risk group is illustrated in Table 2.

Urologists were asked to record their treatment recommendations before and after receiving the GPS results. Across all groups, a change in treatment recommendations was observed for 16% of patients, with 12% changing to higher-intensity treatment (either AS to any treatment or any single treatment to multimodal therapy) and 4% changing to lower-intensity treatment (either any single treatment to AS or multimodal therapy to a single treatment or AS). These changes were most common in the intermediate NCCN risk group, with 22% of patients changing to higher-intensity treatment and 5% changing to lower-intensity treatment.


AS is increasingly favored as the initial management strategy of choice for newly diagnosed, low-risk PCa.3 However, its implementation varies across practice settings.4-6 In this analysis, we report on the use of AS in 6 VAMCs before and after the introduction of a genomic test, the Oncotype DX GPS. By providing molecular information to supplement clinical characteristics, genomic testing may improve identification of patients who can be safely managed on AS and those who are likely to benefit from immediate treatment. These molecular markers may be particularly helpful in patient subgroups where there is controversy about appropriate management (eg, black patients, men exposed to AO, intermediate-risk disease).

The GPS assay produced a wide range of results among all patients, within each NCCN risk group, and across all VAMCs. These results support previous work demonstrating considerable biological heterogeneity within the low-risk PCa population; clinical risk factors alone do not capture this level of nuance for individuals.24 The GPS assay provided refined risk-group estimates in approximately 20% of patients across all NCCN risk groups. This number is substantially lower than what was observed in a previous analysis of the clinical utility of the GPS assay, which has shown refinement in 39% of patients.25 These differences could reflect differences in the patient populations, as the previous study was conducted at 2 large community practices and 1 academic center, or may simply reflect the diverse biology in PCa.

The rate of AS in this study was higher in both untested and tested patients compared with other contemporary PCa cohorts, such as CaPSURE, a contemporary prospective registry of 15,000 men with PCa, in which the AS rate for low-risk patients was approximately 40%.7 Our findings are, however, consistent with previous reports of AS rates within the VA.4,26 Despite a high baseline rate of AS in the VA (as evidenced by our untested cohort), the rate of AS increased with the use of GPS testing; this higher utilization was driven primarily by more AS in younger veterans and those with NCCN low-risk disease. Younger patients may have more to lose from immediate therapy and may benefit from the greater confidence in at least a period of AS before definitive treatment. Low-risk patients are generally regarded as highly suitable candidates for AS.3 These findings give confidence that the GPS result is useful in helping these 2 groups make decisions that favor nonintervention. An increase in AS may be attributed to greater physician and/or patient confidence in treatment planning in these groups after receiving individualized biological information from the GPS assay. Study results in other cohorts have confirmed that patient decisional conflict declines27 and that physician confidence increases with incorporation of GPS testing.25,27

This prospective study included a large cohort of black men with PCa who received genomic testing to aid in their treatment decision process. Interestingly, the rate of AS was higher in black veterans than white veterans in both the untested and tested cohorts. VA physicians are clearly willing to offer AS to all veterans, regardless of race. Similar to previous studies, the median and range of GPS results were similar between black and white patients,21 supporting the idea that the GPS assay measures PCa genes that are expressed similarly in both black and white patients. AS rates were higher in black and white veterans with incorporation of GPS results, although the difference was greater in black veterans.

Collectively, these data suggest that the GPS assay can be a very useful tool in guiding management decisions in black men with low-risk PCa who are considering treatment versus surveillance. Additional studies in larger patient cohorts are needed to confirm these findings.

This study has several limitations. The untested cohort included a significantly larger proportion of intermediate-risk patients. Although this may be construed to imply that the greater utilization of AS in the tested cohort was driven by lower baseline risk, within group changes indicate that there was higher AS utilization in tested patients regardless of baseline risk group; this change was most pronounced for the NCCN low-risk category but was present in NCCN very-low and intermediate-risk patients. We considered any patients who did not receive a definitive treatment within

6 months of biopsy as undergoing AS. Hence, some patients classified as receiving AS may have been simply delaying planned definitive management. The untested patients were seen in the VA in the 2 years prior to enrollment of the tested patients. Practice patterns are evolving in the direction of higher AS rates across all practice settings,6 and some of this shift may be related to temporal tends. However, we believe it unlikely that the differences between groups in this study would have been achieved in a 1- to 2-year period, particularly since the institutions and providers were the same and the baseline rate of AS was already very high.


To our knowledge, this study represents the first report of biopsy-based genomic testing for PCa within VAMCs. This cohort was also enriched for black patients, an important group in which there is ongoing controversy about the appropriateness of AS for initial management. We confirm prior studies’ findings demonstrating that the refinement of risk provided by the GPS assay can support increased adoption of AS for an initial management approach. This increased adoption was seen across age, race, and NCCN risk groups, with the largest increases observed in men younger than 60 years, black veterans, and NCCN low-risk patients, which is also in line with guideline-based care. Future studies showing the persistence on AS and longer-term outcomes should be considered to further support the utility of the GPS assay. 

Author affiliations: CHOIR, Bedford, MA (LB); Urology Department, University of Texas Health Sciences Center, San Antonio, TX (JWB); Veterans Healthcare Administration, Bedford, MA (BB); Department of Urology, University of Washington, and VA Puget Sound Health Care System, Seattle, WA (AD); Department of Urology, University of Kansas Health System, Kansas City, KS (DAD); VINCI, VA Salt Lake City Health Care System, Salt Lake City, UT (OE); Urology Section, James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital, Tampa, FL (CEE); Oncology Development, Genomic Health, Inc, Redwood City, CA (PGF); Urology Department, Portland VA Medical Center, Portland, OR, and Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR (MG); Department of Urology, University of Texas Health San Antonio, San Antonio, TX (JH); Managed Care, Genomic Health, Inc, Redwood City, CA (MJK); Department of Urology, University of Texas Health San Antonio, and South Texas Veterans Health Care System, San Antonio, TX (MAL); Salt Lake City VA Medical Center, Salt Lake City, UT, and University of Massachusetts, Boston, MA (JAL); Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Service, Kansas City VA Medical Center, Kansas City, MO (SCM); VA Puget Sound Health Care System, and University of Washington, Seattle, WA (MPP); Minneapolis VA Medical Center, and Department of Urology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN (MCR); Genomic Health, Inc, Redwood City, CA (MPR); James A. Haley VA Hospital, and Department of Urology, Morsani College of Medicine, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL (RRS); Department of Urology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA (JLW).
Funding source: This study and supplement were supported by Genomic Health Inc, the company that has exclusive rights to conduct the 17-gene Genomic Prostate Score assay. Funding was provided to the Veteran Healthcare Administration, not to individual authors.
Author disclosures: Dr Basler reports serving as an unpaid investigator. Dr Dash reports receiving grants/research support from Genomic Health, Inc. Dr Febbo reports he is an employee and has stock ownership of Genomic Health, Inc. Mr Kemeter reports he is an employee and has stock ownership of Genomic Health, Inc. Dr Lynch reports receipt of grants from Genomic Health, Inc (paid to institution) and attendance at meetings/conferences paid by Genomic Health, Inc (paid to institution). Dr Risk reports receiving grants from Genomic Health, Inc. Dr Rothney reports she is an employee and has stock ownership of Genomic Health, Inc. Dr Wright reports receipt of grants from Genomic Health, Inc. Laurie Barrett; David A. Duchene, MD, FACS; Olga Efimova, MD, PhD; Cesar E. Ercole, MD; Mark Garzotto, MD; Michael A. Liss, MD, MAS, FACS; Sharad C. Mathur, MD; Michael P. Porter, MD, MS, and Raoul R. Salup, MD, FACS report no relationships or financial interests with any entity that would pose a conflict of interest with the subject matter of this supplement.
Authorship information: Concept and design (BB, AD, PGF, MG, MJK, JAL, MPR, JLW); acquisition of data (JWB, AD, DAD, OE, CEE, MG, JH, MAL, JAL, SCM, MPP, MCR, RRS); analysis and interpretation of data (JWB, BB, AD, OE, PGF, MG, JAL, MCR, MPR, JLW); drafting of the manuscript (BB, AD, PGF, MG, MAL, JAL, MPR; JLW); critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content (DAD, PGF, JH, MJK, MAL, JAL, MCR, MPR, RRS, JLW); statistical analysis (OE, JAL, MPR); provision of study materials or patients (LB, JWB, AD, DAD, CEE, MG, JH, JAL, SCM, MPP, MCR, RRS); administrative, technical, or logistical support (LB, DAD, CEE, MJK, SCM, MPP); supervision (DAD, MAL,  SCM), and other—database design (LB).
Address correspondence to: Julie A. Lynch, PhD, RN, MBA; Bedford VA Medical Center; 200 Springs Road; Bedford, MA 01730. E-mail: Julie
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