Genetic markers identify those who need urgent prostate-cancer treatment

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A recent discovery of 5 genetic markers for the most aggressive forms of prostate cancer brings hope that a simple blood test could someday distinguish between prostate cancer patients who need urgent, aggressive treatment and those who do not. Such a test would be welcome for many men who have undergone needless biopsies or "overtreatment" for tumors that were not life-threatening. Scientists in the U.S. and Sweden named these 5 markers--LEPR, RNASEL, IL4, CRY1 and ARVCF. They are SNPs, which are DNA variations that may be linked to prostate cancer

"While previous studies have suggested that genetic background influences prostate cancer outcomes, this is the first study to validate genetic markers associated with lethal disease," lead author Janet Stanford, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, tells AFP. "We chose to study SNPs in genes that potentially play a key role in biological pathways that may contribute to prostate cancer progression such as inflammation, steroid-hormone production and metabolism, DNA repair, circadian rhythm and vitamin D activity."

Out of DNA samples taken from 1,309 Seattle prostate cancer patients, 22 SNPs were "significantly associated with prostate cancer-specific mortality," the study says. Study of a group of patients in Sweden helped narrow that number down to 5 SNPs most-closely linked to prostate cancer deaths.

"Patients who carried four or all 5 of these genetic markers had a 50% higher risk of dying from their prostate cancer than patients who had two or fewer," the study said. "The risk of dying from prostate cancer increased with the number of SNP genetic variants a patient carried." More studies are planned on other patient populations.

- read more in AFP
- and a release from Fred Hutchinson
- WebMD filed this report
- and here's the abstract in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention

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