Researchers in the United Kingdom have found that there appear to be five distinct types of prostate cancer and a way to distinguish between them. This information may help in treating prostate cancer by identifying which cancers are more likely to grow aggressively and which will not.
By looking for abnormal chromosomes and measuring the activity of 100 different genes linked to prostate cancer, the researchers were able to group the tumors into five distinct types. Each type has a characteristic genetic fingerprint.
This analysis was able to identify which cancers were likely to grow more rapidly and was better at making this distinction than tests that are currently used. However, these findings will need to be confirmed in clinical trials with larger groups of men.
"The next step is to confirm these results in bigger studies and drill down into the molecular 'nuts and bolts' of each specific prostate cancer type. By carrying out more research into how the different diseases behave we might be able to develop more effective ways to treat prostate cancer patients in the future, saving more lives," said Dr Alastair Lamb, of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute and lead author on the study.
If the results hold up in larger clinical trials, it would help physicians choose more appropriate treatments for men with aggressive cancers or less aggressive cancers. Choosing the right treatment for the right type of prostate cancer could mean more years of life and a better quality of life.
In the UK, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men. Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in American men, second only to skin cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. About 1 man in 7 is diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime, according to the society.
The study was published in the journal EBioMedicine.