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Genetic screening may identify aggressive prostate cancers
Scientists have pinpointed two genes that could help spot patients with aggressive prostate cancer.
Accurate prognoses for prostate cancer are difficult as the disease can take quite different courses ranging from very slow-growing and localised to aggressive, rapidly spreading forms. Doctors therefore often take a ‘watchful waiting’ approach with older patients, but current grading systems for assessing prostate tumours such as the Gleason System cannot always predict which tumours may develop quickly into aggressive forms. Testing prostate tumour tissue for gene expression signatures associated with poor outcomes, the scientists discovered two tumour sub-types that carried a 3.2-fold increased risk of death. The gene signatures were found in 29% of the 281 patients in the study.
Identifying genes whose activity can indicate fast-spreading tumours is a first step towards developing a genetic test to identify patients in whom the cancer is likely to progress rapidly, and who might therefore benefit from more aggressive treatments, including surgery or chemotherapy.