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Study reveals 2/3 of prostate cancer patients do not need treatment
Date:9/23/2009

In the largest study of its kind, the international team of pathologists studied an initial 4,000 prostate cancer patients over a period of 15 years to further understanding into the natural progression of the disease and how it should be managed. The research, published in the British Journal of Cancer, could be used to develop a blood test to distinguish between aggressive and non-aggressive forms of prostate cancer.

Globally, prostate cancer is the fifth most common malignancy and accounts for 13% of male deaths in the UK. Studies have shown that men with non-aggressive prostate cancer can live with the disease untreated for many years, but aggressive cancer requires immediate treatment.

Pathologists found that the presence of a protein, called Hsp-27, in cancer cells was an indicator that the disease will progress and require treatment. The study showed, however, that in more than 60% of cases the protein was not expressed and the cancer could be managed by careful monitoring, rather than with active invention methods, such as drug treatment or surgery.

The protein normally has a positive function in the body, helping healthy cells survive when they are placed under 'stressful' conditions, such as disease or injury. If the protein is expressed in cancer, however, it can prevent the diseased cells from dying, allowing the cancer to progress. The team, supported by Cancer Research UK (CRUK) and in collaboration with scientists in London and New York, found that the protein can be used to predict how the disease will behave and could help doctors advise patients on how the disease could affect their daily lives.

Professor Chris Foster, Head of the University's Division of Pathology, explains: "Cancer of any kind is a very distressing disease and has the ability to impact on every aspect of a person's life. Chemotherapy and surgery can also have a significant effect on health and wellbeing and that is why it
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Contact: Samantha Martin
samantha.martin@liv.ac.uk
44-151-794-2248
University of Liverpool
Source:Eurekalert

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