Gene test may predict prostate Ca aggressiveness before, after surgery

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A genetic pattern may predict how aggressive prostate cancer is before treatment and whether the disease will recur in men who have already been treated, according to research from Queen Mary, University of London.

A genetic pattern may predict how aggressive prostate cancer is before treatment and whether the disease will recur in men who have already been treated, according to research from Queen Mary, University of London.

Researchers found that men with the highest levels of cell cycle progression (CCP) genes were three times more likely than those with the lowest levels to have advanced disease. And for patients who have undergone radical prostatectomy, those with the highest CCP levels were 70% more likely to have recurrence.

"Our findings have great potential," said lead author Jack Cuzick, PhD. "CCP genes are expressed at higher levels in actively growing cells, so we could be indirectly measuring the growth rate and inherent aggressiveness of the tumor through our test. We already know that CCP levels can predict survival for breast and, more recently, brain and lung cancers. It’s really encouraging that this could also be applied to prostate cancer, where we desperately need a way to predict how aggressive the disease will be."

The study, which was published online in Lancet Oncology (Feb. 8, 2011), looked at 703 men with prostate cancer: 366 men in America who had undergone prostatectomy and 337 men in the United Kingdom who had localized prostate cancer and were judged not to need immediate treatment. Tissue samples were tested for levels of 31 different genes involved in CCP. The researchers were then able to show that a predefined combination of these gene levels can identify men at high or low risk of the disease spreading beyond the prostate.

"This is important research that could one day help solve one of the biggest problems in prostate cancer treatment," said Lesley Walker, PhD, of Cancer Research United Kingdom, who was not involved with the study. "This test isn’t yet available for routine use, but we’ll look forward to seeing the results of large clinical trials that will tell us whether it’ll be useful for all men with prostate cancer."

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