A New Molecular Marker For Prostate Cancer

LOS ANGELES, June, 16, 1998 -- A new molecular marker can be used to better predict tumor progression in men with prostate cancer, the second-leading cause of male cancer deaths in the United States. Researchers at the USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center report the new findings from a study of 96 men with localized disease in the June 17 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The team found that patients with tumors expressing abnormally low levels of a protein important in regulating cell division faced a significantly higher risk of disease recurrence and death than patients with tumors expressing high levels of the protein.

"Physicians may be able to use this tumor marker to identify prostate cancer patients most likely to harbor dangerous, life-threatening tumors," says Richard J. Cote, M.D., who led the study team. Cote is an associate professor of pathology and urology at the USC/Norris Cancer Center.

"In addition, the marker can help doctors make better decisions about treatment, ensuring that men most likely to develop metastatic disease undergo aggressive therapies. It will also help identify men who can avoid the most intensive and expensive treatments," he says. The American Cancer Society estimates that this year 184,500 American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and that some 42,000 men will die of the disease. With one of the highest incidences of all cancers, it is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in men. Gauging how aggressive prostate tumors are -- and thus how aggressive treatment should be -- has created a quandary for physicians and men diagnosed with early prostate cancer.

In the last decade, the widespread use of the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test has allowed the detection of many more cases of early prostate cancer than previously possible. Yet, scientists believe that many of the localized tumors identified by the PSA screen are so slow-growing that men are more likely to d

Contact: Eva Emerson
University of Southern California

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