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Inflammation may play role in metastasis of prostate cancer

Many would assume that "mounting an immune response" or "having your body fight the cancer" is a good thing. Now, research at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine strongly suggests that inflammation associated with the progression of tumors actually plays a key role in the metastasis of prostate cancer.

The research, appearing online March 19 in advance of publication in the journal Nature, identifies a mechanism which triggers metastasis, which is the spread of cancer in late stages of prostate cancer development. The findings by Michael Karin, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology in UCSD's Laboratory of Gene Regulation and Signal Transduction, and colleagues may help solve the puzzle of why it takes so long for cancer to metastasize, as well as what causes it to do so. Furthermore, this new work may lead to development of anti-metastatic therapies.

A major hypothesis in cancer research has been that whether the cancer metastisizes or not is determined by genetic changes within the cancer cell itself. But this hypothesis didn't explain why metastases appear many years after the initial tumor.

"Our findings suggest that promoting inflammation of the cancerous tissue, for instance, by performing prostate biopsies, may, ironically, hasten progression of metastasis," said Karin. "We have shown that proteins produced by inflammatory cells are the 'smoking gun' behind prostate cancer metastasis. The next step is to completely indict one of them."

One in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, and one in 33 will die of metastatic disease. Early tumors confined to the prostate can be treated, but no effective treatments are available for metastatic disease, according to Steven L. Gonias, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair of the UCSD Department of Pathology, a study investigator.

"This study helps explain the paradox that, in certain types of malignancy, inflammation within a cancer may be cou
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Source:University of California - San Diego


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