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Diagnosis and choice of treatment

Diagnose Prognose

A diagnosis of cancer causes uncertainty and worry for those affected. It raises many questions: How aggressive is my cancer? Do I need an operation now? What kind of treatment should I have? An appropriate test can offer some clarity and help you choose the right treatment.

Determining the aggressiveness of prostate cancer (Prolaris)

Prolaris is a gene expression test that can help to predict how prostate cancer may progress. The test is carried out on existing tumour tissue (biopsy) and accurately measures the activity of specific genes that directly influence tumour growth. This analysis of the tumour biology provides valuable additional information together with other clinical parameters (such as the PSA value and Gleason score). Prolaris thereby makes it possible to assess the level of risk and design a personalised treatment plan. The findings can influence the decision over whether to carry out immediate treatment or to continue active monitoring. The Prolaris test only needs to be carried out once.

The test can also be of value to patients whose prostate has been surgically removed (prostatectomy). It can help to provide a better estimation of the risk of relapse. This information can be used to decide on the level of aftercare or possible additional treatment.

Limits of the test

The Prolaris test was developed to predict prostate cancer aggressiveness. It allows you and your doctor to determine an individualised treatment or monitoring strategy. Please note:

  • Prolaris only provides information about your prostate cancer.
  • The test is not a form of treatment and has no influence over how the disease will progress.
  • Decisions about a patient's cancer treatment should always be made based on an evaluation of all available clinical, laboratory and pathological information.
Clinical studies

Several clinical studies have documented the Prolaris test's greater accuracy in predicting prostate cancer aggressiveness. The test has been proven to predict how aggressive the cancer is and thus how it will progress for different groups of patients, both before and after the tumour is treated.

Analysis to determine choice of treatment for ovarian cancer (tumor BRACAnalysis CDx)

Ovarian cancer can be hereditary – a form which is often associated with changes (mutations) in the high-risk genes BRCA1 and BRCA2. The products of these genes are used to repair DNA in many cells. If these proteins are no longer able to function properly as a result of a mutation, DNA damage cannot be fully repaired, thereby substantially increasing the risk of breast and ovarian cancer in those affected.

At the same time, however, a mutation in these genes means that patients with ovarian cancer can cope better with the disease[A1] and are more likely to respond to certain forms of chemotherapy, as drugs which damage DNA are more effective. In addition, advanced therapy using PARP inhibitors (drugs which further hamper DNA repair) can be used to successfully treat these patients.

As well as being hereditary (or "germline") as mentioned above, mutations can also occur in the tumour itself – so-called somatic mutations. These have the same effects as hereditary mutations on responses to treatment, but cannot be inherited.

Conventional tests exclusively recognise hereditary changes detected in the blood. The Tumor BRACAnalysis, meanwhile, also reveals mutations that only occur in the tumour, resulting in one third more patients being identified for potential treatment.

Limits of the analysis

Tumor BRACAnalysis CDx was developed specifically to predict the efficacy of PARP inhibitors.

Please note:

  • Tumor BRACAnalysis CDx recognises hereditary and non-hereditary mutations, but does not distinguish between the two.If a mutation is found, an additional test should be performed to determine whether it is hereditary.
  • Knowledge of a hereditary mutation can allow cancer to be identified early among relatives and even prevented.

In rare cases, the nature of a detected mutation may be unclear and may not be used to determine the course of treatment. If the nature of the mutation is clarified, your doctor will be informed immediately.

Clinical studies

The Tumor BRACAnalysis is performed using the latest available technology. Numerous studies have shown that the test can reliably identify all forms of DNA mutations. In approval studies for PARP inhibitors, it was proven that patients with mutations in the tumour responded well to the treatment.

Diagnosing skin cancer (MyPath)

Melanoma is a form of skin cancer that can be fatal if not treated early. For this reason, it's important to distinguish between an innocuous mole or birthmark and a malignant melanoma. However, 10 to 15% of tests performed do not provide conclusive results. The myPath Melanoma test can offer greater clarity in these cases.

It is a gene expression test used to distinguish between a harmless mole and a melanoma on a molecular level. The test is performed on pre-obtained tissue (biopsy) and measures the activity of specific genes. In the case of a melanoma, a portion of these genes will be considerably more active. In conjunction with a pathological assessment, the test provides useful additional information with which to make an informed diagnosis and initiate timely treatment or monitoring.

Limits of the test

The myPath Melanoma test was developed to establish a melanoma diagnosis on a molecular level. It improves the reliability of the diagnosis and allows you and your doctor to decide on the further course of treatment. The test is designed to supplement clinical, laboratory and pathological information. Please note:

  • The myPath Melanoma test only provides additional information as to whether the tissue obtained is a melanoma or not. In certain cases, it may not be possible to make a clear distinction even after performing the gene expression test.
  • The test is not a form of treatment and has no influence over how the disease will progress.
  • Decisions about a patient's cancer treatment should always be made based on an evaluation of all available clinical, laboratory and pathological information.
Clinical studies

The capacity of the myPath Melanoma test to distinguish between harmless skin alterations and melanomas has been documented in clinical studies.

Costs covered by Helsana

Costs covered with PRIMEO supplementary insurance

If you have taken out PRIMEO supplementary insurance, Helsana will cover 90% of the costs of the tests offered by our partner firm Myriad Genetics. Supplementary insurance pays up to CHF 5,000 in total per calendar year for innovative forms of diagnosis and treatment. Helsana will be invoiced directly for your test. To be eligible for the tests, you must be a Primeo policyholder over 18 years of age diagnosed with prostate cancer (Prolaris), over 18 years of age diagnosed with ovarian cancer (Tumor BRACAnalysis CDx) or over 18 years of age (myPath).

Costs covered without PRIMEO supplementary insurance

This laboratory test is not covered by basic insurance. For policyholders without PRIMEO supplementary insurance, Helsana has agreed the following special conditions with partner firm Myriad Genetics: you receive a 15% discount on the official recommended list price. The policyholder will be invoiced directly for the test.

Advice from your general practitioner

If you are interested in these genetic tests, obtain advice from your doctor. The analysis is only carried out if prescribed by a doctor. Myriad makes the results directly available to the doctor.

Discounts on further Myriad products

Helsana Group policyholders receive additional attractive preferential conditions on products that are not covered by basic or supplementary insurance. Thanks to our partnership, you benefit from a 15% discount on the official list price.

Further informations