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Researchers find better prostate cancer indicators

is commonly linked to the development and progression of cancers. This epi-genetic alteration results in silencing or seriously inhibiting gene expression, which in turn lessens the body's ability to defend against cancer. Current research has not done enough to discover ways to convert this information into a useful medical test, in large part due to the limited number of genes that have been thoroughly studied, and their insufficient sensitivity and specificity (probability of getting a true positive or true negative) for prostate cancer detection.

Dr. Donkena's team looked at 62 cancerous and 36 benign tissue samples to assess the degree of methylation in the three previously identified under-expressed genes, comparing two known methylated genes. They determined that one gene, PDLIM4, had hypermethylation that could serve as an effective sensitivity marker, accurately detecting prostate cancer 95 percent of the time. The researchers further determined that the combined measurement of a previously known gene, GSTP1, and PDLIM4 improved the detection rate to 98 percent.

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death for men in the United States, exceeded only by lung cancer. The sooner a cancer can be diagnosed, the better treatment outcomes will be, so Dr. Donkena and her colleagues are constantly looking for ways to predict who will get prostate cancer, as well as to find better ways to diagnose early or even prevent this disabling and often fatal disease. "We hope that in addition to being a valuable diagnostic and prognostic tool, our discoveries about these genes will help us develop new treatments for prostate cancer," she said.

Other Mayo researchers involved in this study include Karla Ballman, Ph.D.; Bruce Morlan; John Cheville, M.D.; Roxann Neumann; Michael Lieber, M.D.; Donald Tindall, Ph.D.; and Charles Young, Ph.D.


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