WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. Researchers at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and colleagues have identified the first genetic variant associated with aggressive prostate cancer, proving the concept that genetic information may one day be used in combination with other factors to guide treatment decisions.
The research will be reported online next week (Jan. 11-15) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"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 Jianfeng Xu, M.D., Dr. P.H., professor of epidemiology and cancer biology. "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."
According to the authors, prostate cancer accounts for one-fourth of all cancer diagnoses in the United States. Autopsy studies suggest that most aging men will develop prostate lesions that, if detected clinically, would be diagnosed as cancer.
Although most men have a slow-growing form of the disease, aggressive prostate cancers are currently the second-leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., accounting for 27,000 deaths annually.
"The current inability to accurately distinguish risk for life-threatening, aggressive prostate cancer from the overwhelming majority of slow-growing cases creates a treatment dilemma," said Xu.
While researchers, including Xu's team, have identified multiple genetic variants associated with the risk of developing prostate cancer in the first place, until now there have been no genetic factors associated with disease aggressiveness.
Based on existing evidence that some men are genetically predisposed to
|Contact: Karen Richardson|
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center