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New prostate cancer marker helps identify men whose cancer is likely to spread

05.10.2006
Prostate cancer researchers at Sydney's Garvan Institute, supported by the Cancer Institute NSW, have found a new marker for identifying aggressive prostate cancers.

Many men with prostate cancer have their prostate glands removed, but only a proportion of these men will later develop life-threatening metastatic disease – where the cancer spreads to other parts of the body such as the bones. This new marker can identify which men are at the highest risk of metastatic disease at the time of their initial surgery leading to tailored treatment for individual prostate cancer sufferers, something that is not currently possible.

A/Prof Sue Henshall, who leads the prostate cancer research group, says: "We have discovered that men who have low levels of a marker called AZGP1 in the prostate at the time of surgery, have a greatly increased risk of developing metastatic cancer. This means two things: that these men could benefit from more aggressive treatment such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy around the time of surgery when they still have potentially curable cancer; and that patients with a low risk of developing metastatic disease will have the option of deferring treatments that have a negative impact on quality of life."

The next step is to explore the relationship between low levels of AZGP1 and the development of metastatic cancer in other groups of men with prostate cancer (i.e. other prostate cancer tissue banks). "It is important to begin testing for this marker now because in the next decade, when the outcomes for some of these new patients is known, we will be able to see just how predictive our marker is in the clinic", said Garvan's Cancer Program Director Professor Rob Sutherland.

"A/Prof Sue Henshall's research has put Australia at the forefront of world research in developing efficient prognostic tools in prostate cancer," said Prof Jim Bishop, Chief Cancer Officer NSW and CEO of Cancer Institute NSW, which funded the research as part of a $3.7 million Program Grant for Excellence in Translational Research.

Branwen Morgan | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.garvan.org.au

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