New advance in prostate cancer management

08/08/05

Scientists from The Institute of Cancer Research have developed a technique which will markedly help in predicting the behaviour of prostate cancer.

At present, prostate cancer tests needle biopsies, blood and urine samples - are unable to accurately predict how aggressive the cancer is and whether it is likely to progress, resulting in thousands of men undergoing radical preventative surgery which may be unnecessary.

A study - published online today in the British Journal of Cancer* - describes a simple and highly reliable technique, known as the 'Checkerboard Tissue Microarray (TMA) Method' which can be carried out on prostate cancer needle biopsies. The Checkerboard TMA Method looks for multiple markers of various genes associated with prostate cancer, including the E2F3 gene. Overexpression of the E2F3 gene, first identified at The Institute of Cancer Research, is a marker of how aggressive the prostate cancer will be.

The new technique will allow the investigation of an enormous untapped resource of clinical specimens obtained at the time of diagnosis of cancer, in order to identify markers of the cancer's aggressiveness. The technique will be pivotal in developing a test for prostate cancer aggressiveness which may ultimately prevent thousands of men undergoing unnecessary surgery, with its often associated severe side effects including incontinence and impotence.

"This represents a real advance for the future management of prostate cancer," said Professor Colin Cooper, The Grand Charity of Freemasons' Chair of Molecular Biology at The Institute of Cancer Research. "Eventually we hope to be able to distinguish the tigers - aggressive tumours requiring treatment - from the pussycats - non aggressive tumours which can be monitored for many years without treatment. Ultimately this could prevent thousands of men from having to undergo radical surgery, which can have devastating effects on their day to day lives."

Prostate cancer is now the most common cancer to affect men in the UK. More than 30,000 men in the UK are diagnosed with the disease and almost 10,000 men die from the disease each year.

Professor Peter Rigby, Chief Executive at The Institute of Cancer Research comments:

"This demonstrates the real progress we are making in the field of prostate cancer research. Since discovering the E2F3 gene as a marker of prostate cancer aggressiveness our research team has been committed to developing a test for the gene. The development of this technique is a significant step forward in prostate cancer management and should ultimately improve thousands of men's lives."

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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