While most of the 220,000 American males diagnosed with prostate cancer this year will find their disease is in an earlier, more treatable stage, some will not. Aggressive forms of the disease, those that are later in stage and may have already spread to other parts of the body, pose a unique challenge in fighting. Researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, have been delving in to find out why. Their findings may pave the way for a better understanding of the nature of later stage prostate cancers. This, in turn, could open doors for better treatments down the road.
Early stage prostate cancer is oftentimes very slow growing and many present men with the option of simply living with it and monitoring activity. Those diagnosed with more aggressive forms of the disease will find that is not the case for them. This more aggressive prostate cancer is known to resist standard courses of treatment and has perplexed doctors thus far.
The UC Santa Cruz researchers believe they may have uncovered just why this form of the disease is so persistent. It seems the cells found in metastasized prostate cancer patients have properties that are very similar to actual stem cells. To reveal that finding, researchers analyzed biopsies from men living with the disease at present. They found the signature between prostate stem cells and the aggressive prostate cancer was quite similar. While far from a cure just yet, the new research provides valuable insight into the nature of aggressive prostate cancer. It serves as a springboard for future studies to develop treatments that might prove more beneficial for those in later stages of the disease.
Early detection and treatment of prostate cancer is generally considered critical. While researchers strive for better treatments for advanced cases, men can help themselves by going in for routine exams. Men should begin talking to their healthcare providers about prostate health in their 40s or so.