Scientists identify genetic variant associated with aggressive PCa

Feb 11, 2010

Genetic information may one day be used in combination with other factors to guide treatment decisions for aggressive prostate cancer due to the recent detection of a genetic variant associated with the disease, data from a recent study suggest.

Genetic information may one day be used in combination with other factors to guide treatment decisions for aggressive prostate cancer due to the recent detection of a genetic variant associated with the disease, data from a recent study suggest.

"This finding addresses one of the most important clinical questions of prostate cancer- the ability at an early stage to distinguish between aggressive and slow-growing disease," said lead author Jianfeng Xu, MD, PhD, of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, NC.

"Although the genetic marker currently has limited clinical utility, we believe it has the potential to one day be used in combination with other clinical variables and genetic markers to predict which men have aggressive prostate cancer at a stage when the disease is still curable."

The study, which was published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Jan. 11, 2010), analyzed genetic information from 4,849 men with aggressive disease and 12,205 with slow-growing disease to determine whether the men with aggressive disease had genetic variants in common. It included participants in the Genetic Markers of Susceptibility study performed by the National Cancer Institute as well as additional study populations in the U.S. and Sweden.

The researchers identified a genetic variant (rs4054823) that was associated with a 25% higher risk of developing aggressive disease.

"A single variant with a moderate effect such as this is unlikely to be sufficient on its own at predicting risk," Dr. Xu said. "But its identification is significant because it indicates that variants predisposing men to aggressive disease exist in the genome."