Medical researchers are increasingly using genetics to help identify different types of prostate cancer and particularly those which may be more aggressive and difficult to treat.
Five types of prostate cancer have now been identified, each with a different genetic signature.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in the UK for men with 41,700 new cases diagnosed and 10,800 deaths each year.
Identifying the likely type of cancer is important as some prostate cancers remain slow growing while others advance rapidly and require urgent and surgery with risks of post operative limitations. Men with low grade cancer are currently offered the choice of an operation or active surveillance involving regular blood tests and examinations. However, surveillance tests do not always result in radical surgery being avoided at a later point with radiotherapy.
The best diagnostic to date is template biopsy which examines a wider range of tissue samples than a more basic prostate biopsy. Combining genetic testing with the existing tests will hopefully, in the future, enable doctors to be even more accurate in their prediction of the course of individual cancers.
Researcher, Dr Alastair Lamb said:
‘These findings could help doctors decide on the best course of treatment for each individual patient, based on the characteristics of their tumour.
The next steps is to confirm these results in bigger studies and drill down into the molecular ‘nuts and bolts’ of each specific prostate cancer type.’
While more research is needed, it is encouraging that there may be better predictive factors for this disease in the near future.
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