Tuesday, August 23, 2011

DNA bits can ID most likely fatal prostate cancers

Dr. Janet Stanford, led an
international team that
identified gene variants
linked to lethal prostate
cancer. (Photo by Suzie
Fitzhugh, courtesy
Researchers have identified inherited gene variations that provide doctors with a way to predict which prostate cancers need to be treated aggressively and which may be safely watched.

Led by Dr. Janet Stanford, co-director of the Program in Prostate Cancer Research at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, in Seattle, the researchers analyzed DNA in blood samples from 1,309 prostate cancer patients in the Seattle area. They found 22 bits of DNA, called single-nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs that are significantly associated with prostate cancer-specific mortality. When they then compared them with a similar Swedish study, they identified five of these SNPs in common, suggesting that these five SNPs are valid markers of prostate-cancer mortality. The study was published Aug. 16 in the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention.

Patients with four to five of these DNA variants had a 50 percent higher risk for prostate cancer death than patients who had only two or fewer of them. If further testing of these variants Stanford told MedScape that it would not be difficult to develop a blood test for these SNPs that could be used in clinical practice.

"But we need to wait until further validation studies are completed before we will know how useful this panel of SNPs will be in complimenting Gleason score, stage, and PSA [prostate-specific antigen] for guiding decisions in the clinic," she said. "This initial study, however, provides the first validated evidence that a patient's inherited genetic background can affect prostate cancer aggressiveness and thereby outcomes, Stanford told Medscape News Today."

Medscape News Today

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