Many of the nearly 200,000 American men who will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year will find their cancer is considered low-risk. Often slow growing, this type of prostate cancer is typically considered so non-aggressive that some men may find their doctors suggesting a treatment method known as active surveillance. This involves careful monitoring of the tumor, but no aggressive treatments like surgery or radiation. While highly effective in many cases, some men will find their low-risk cancer actually isn’t and that active surveillance must be called off in favor of treatment. A newly developed analysis method provides a way to better identify men whose cancer is more likely to become aggressive as time passes, even if the initial diagnosis is lower risk.
The analysis method involves determining a tumor’s gene expression profile to better gauge cancers that are likely to become aggressive as time passes. A recent study involving the method and tumor subtypes showed that one subtype in particular, PCS1, was more typically aggressive than others. By enabling doctors to subtype prostate cancer tumors that appear low risk, it is hoped the analysis method will lead to more accurate diagnosis.
Prostate cancer is among the most commonly diagnosed forms of cancer among American men. An estimated 26,000, in fact, die from the disease annually. Being able to better gauge if prostate cancer poses a serious threat to life may help lower these numbers by paving the way for more immediate interventions when they are necessary.
All men are at risk for the development of prostate cancer over the course of their lifetimes. With that in mind, early screening should become a part of the routine as men approach middle age. Early detection and treatment of prostate cancer can lead to potentially lifesaving treatment when it is indicated. The timeframe in which early screening should begin will generally hinge on a man’s personal risks for developing prostate cancer.