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New prostate cancer class reported

Thursday March 2nd, 2017

Scientists have used a novel mathematical approach to overcome previous issues with classifying prostate cancer into categories for prognosis.

"Prostate cancer, unlike breast cancer, does not have a robust classification framework," explains Professor Colin Cooper of the University of East Anglia, UK.

His team report that: "This failure has occurred because prostate cancer samples selected for analysis frequently have heterozygous compositions - individual samples are made up of many different parts that each have different characteristics."

Using their mathematical approach called Latent Process Decomposition, the team was able to identify a new prognosis category of human prostate cancer, which they call DESNT.

Cancers in this category are characterised by low expression of a core set of 45 genes, say the team, many encoding proteins involved in the cytoskeleton machinery, ion transport, and cell adhesion. Patients have a poor outcome relative to other prostate cancer patients.

Making these vital distinctions between aggressive and less harmful forms of prostate cancer will help avoid unnecessary treatment, they hope.

Professor Cooper says: "Previously, distinguishing the dangerous 'tigers' from the less threatening 'pussycats' has not been possible for many men.

"Curative treatment of early prostate cancer by surgery or radiotherapy needs to ideally be targeted to the minority of men with significant cancers, so that the remainder are spared the side-effects of treatment, which frequently includes impotence."

The work appears in today's (1 March) European Urology Focus.

Dr Iain Frame of Prostate Cancer UK commented: "Currently, too many men receive treatments and endure life changing side effects for cancers that may never cause them harm.

"The research results reported today will help us build a more complete picture of what makes some prostate cancers aggressive. This will undoubtedly help us provide an earlier and more accurate diagnosis and in turn inform us how best to treat the disease."

Luca, B. A. et al. DESNT: A poor prognosis category of human prostate cancer. European Urology Focus 1 March 2017; doi: 10.1016/j.euf.2017.01.016

Tags: Cancer | Genetics | Men's Health | Pharmaceuticals | UK News | Urology

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