Despite the clinical advances in managing metastatic prostate cancer in the last 20 years, treatments for patients with metastatic disease only offer a brief respite from disease progression, especially after first-line therapies. Research into treatment resistance has defined a subset of patients with neuroendocrine differentiation of their prostate adenocarcinoma. Although neuroendocrine findings in conjunction with prostate adenocarcinoma can be seen in pathology samples at all stages of disease, the neuroendocrine variant of prostate cancer associated with poor outcomes occurs in approximately 20% of men with advanced disease. In this issue of JCI, Zhao, Sperger, and colleagues present data for a promising biomarker platform that can detect neuroendocrine prostate cancer after serial sampling of patients’ blood with a high degree of sensitivity and specificity. This assay will be tested in several current and future trials to better define its potential clinical role and perhaps provide a greater understanding of neuroendocrine prostate cancer itself.
Fatima Karzai, Ravi A. Madan