May 14, 2009

Scientists Find New Way to Identify Deadly Forms of Prostate Cancer

Researchers have discovered a new method to help doctors identify the most aggressive forms of prostate cancer.

A struggle for medical professionals in identifying prostate cancer is determining which forms are very aggressive and will require surgery and which forms are dormant and can be left untreated without risk.

Reporting in the British Journal of Cancer Research, scientists noted that bubbles of fat passed through the urine could provide new clues to deciding how to treat individuals with prostate cancer.

With about 34,000 new cases being found each year, prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer among men in the UK.

Doctors have previously used prostate specific antigen testing to screen patients for prostate cancer.

PSA testing can produce faulty results. Researchers have discovered that fatty capsules, called exosomes, come directly from the tumor and contain genetic information about they cancer.

"We hope that this innovative approach to studying prostate cancer will reveal new biomarkers for aggressive tumors," said Dr Jonas Nilsson, at the VU University Medical Centre in Amsterdam.

"Tumor-derived RNA is preserved in these capsules and gives us an insight into the genetics of an individual's tumor."

But Matthew Shuford, urologist at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, said that PSA testing is still effective, and it saves lives.

"Keep in mind that it is only curable when caught early; it can only be caught early by screening; and the screening is a simple blood test that is cheap and easy."

Approximately 90 percent of all prostate cancers are currently diagnosed at an early stage, according to the National Cancer Institute. "Early diagnosis greatly increases a man's chances of successful treatment," said Dr. Shuford.


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