Researchers in the United States and Sweden have linked five inherited genetic mutations to an aggressive and deadly form of prostate cancer.
Researchers hope the discovering will eventually lead to a simple blood test screening method that will allow doctors to find mutations that could lead to long-term risk assessment.
In the Aug. 16 online edition of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention the team, led by Janet L. Stanford, co-director of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center said:
“The ability to distinguish patients at elevated risk for having aggressive, life-threatening prostate cancer at the time of diagnosis could improve care for the subset of cases most likely to benefit from aggressive therapy and help avoid over-treatment of patients whose tumors are likely to remain indolent.”
Assessment is important for prostate cancer patients as many are over-treated when they may in fact be experiencing a low risk for fast disease progression, while the study could help lower treatment when needed, helping prevent side effects which can include sexual impotence and urinary incontinence.
In a journal news release Standford noted:
“Biomarkers that could distinguish between patients with indolent vs. more aggressive tumors are urgently needed,” while adding, “The panel of markers we’ve identified provides the first validated evidence that inherited genetic variants play a role in prostate cancer progression and mortality. Ultimately these markers could be used in the clinic, along with other known predictors that are used to assess tumor aggressiveness, such as a high Gleason score, to identify men with a high-risk profile.”
Using the five linked genes the researchers are attempting to highlight risk differences. The study used 1,300 prostate cancer patients between the age of 35 and 74-years-old.
According to USAToday:
The result: Five single-letter mutations (or SNPs) were isolated among the patients’ “DNA alphabet” as having a significant bearing on prostate cancer progression in terms of affecting cell death, tumor growth, inflammation, androgen hormone levels, blood-vessel development and bone density.
Patients found to have at least four out of the five cited SNP mutations appeared to face a 50 percent higher risk for dying from their disease compared with those who carried two or fewer of the mutations.
Markers that can determine which men are most likely to see fast progressing prostate cancer would be a huge advance in the area of prostate cancer screening and precautionary treatment planning.