Researchers looking at the connection between prostate cancer and its potentially painful and deadly spread to bones may have unlocked a secret to help prevent metastasis. It seems a protein secreted by the bones themselves may help inhibit the spread of prostate cancer into nearby bones.
The results of a study conducted by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the University of California were recently released. Researchers found that a particular protein found in the bones, known as sclerostin, can slow spread of tumors into the bones. Men with lower rates of this protein were more likely to witness the spread in more aggressive forms of the disease.
While the full implications of the findings are not yet known and more study is required, the revelation may one day lead to a way to inhibit prostate cancer’s spread to the bones. This is considered especially important in more aggressive forms of the disease. Bone tumors are known to cause a great deal of pain while also causing fractures. In addition, this form of metastasis is well documented as a main cause of morbidity in prostate cancer patients.
Prostate cancer is estimated to impact about 220,000 American men each year. This disease, when caught early, is generally considered highly treatable through surgery, radiation and other options. While many men are diagnosed with this disease in its earlier stages, sometimes higher-risk cases are associated with a spread to bones and other parts of the body.
All men are at risk for prostate cancer. With that in mind, it is generally recommended that men begin routine screening for the disease around the age of 50. Men who are considered at higher risk due to factors, such as ethnicity and family history, may find that screening for them should begin around the age of 40. Regardless of risk status, men are urged to talk about this condition with their healthcare providers.