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Biotech Science

Genetic Marker For Aggressive Prostate Cancer 36

hairygenes writes "Northwestern University researchers have found a genetic marker associated with aggressive forms of prostate cancer. Previously characterized mutations in markers at 8q24 are associated with a broader population than previously reported and with much more aggressive tumors. deCODE genetics, who originally characterized these mutations, noted a 60% increase in risk of prostate cancer, but this study finds more concrete linkage to inheritance and disease severity."
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Genetic Marker For Aggressive Prostate Cancer

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  • by Budenny ( 888916 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @04:11AM (#19205911)
    Most of us are probably too young for it to be a personal concern, but it certainly is one for our fathers. This will be a great advance if confirmed and widely used.

    The problem is the side effects of current treatments. They are fairly dire, including impotence and incontinence as very common (and probably underreported) side effects of surgery. Because most PCs are not aggressive, the main consequence of intensive screening programs is that we detect more non-aggressive cases, we then needlessly operate, and we thus needlessly produce unpleasant side effects in thousands of men who would have died with, but not of, non-aggressive PC. But, there was no way to know.

    So if you could have some way of only treating those we really need to treat, it would have major quality of life implications for a lot of men.

    The other question is, what the right treatment is. This is very personal and depends on risks and attitudes to it. It seems from a review of the literature by an amateur, that the treatment which offers the best risk reward ratio is Intermitten Hormone suppression. It is going to be unpleasant, but its temporary. Its not guaranteed to work - but neither is surgery, the recurrence rate is not trivial.

    Biopsy is also not either totally reliable or particularly safe in itself. You can miss the tumour, if its small, if there is one. It is also possible that when biopsy is done under general anesthetic, the anesthetic itself can produce total urinary blockage in a man with benign enlargement.

    All in all this is a very messy illness and its great that some real progress in diagnosis is being made.
  • by vtcodger ( 957785 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @07:26AM (#19206845)
    Scanning through the comments already posted, I see some of the usual strengths and weaknesses of Slashdot postings. the weaknesses being mostly the Post_Fast_Or_No_One_Will_Read_It syndrome.

    • This article is about AGRESSIVE prostate cancer which is relatively rare.

    • Ordinary prostate cancer is very common and often proceeds so slowly that it is often left untreated in older patients. It is often said that men die WITH prostate cancer, not OF prostate cancer. True of the general population. Not true of those with the agressive form.

    • There is a perfectly OK and inexpensive blood test for prostate cancer that is generally covered by insurance. It's biggest deficiency is a large number of false positives.

    • There are three treatments for prostate cancer -- Surgery which can cause impotence and other nasty problems. Chemical therapy which is tough on the body. (X)Radiation which leads to some temporary discomfort but is not otherwise even especially unpleasant.

    • Hormone (Testosterone) supression is also used as a therapy, generally in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiation. The idea is that the therapy weakens the cancer cells and the lack of Testosterone finishes them off.

    • The principle utility of this discovery -- if it leads to a test -- is that it will help in screening patients who need immediate treatment for their prostate cancer from those where it is reasonable to wait and see how fast the cancer progresses. That's important because a large number of elderly men have prostate cancer (50% is a common estimate) and there aren't close to enough resources to treat them all. Nor, probably, is there any need to do so.

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