Researchers at Cancer Research UK have discovered that there are actually five different types of prostate cancer. The researchers say that these five different types of prostate cancer can be distinguished from one another and may even mean different treatments for each type that could be targeted to patients. The study was published in the journal EBioMedicine.
Prostate cancer key statistics:
- Prostate cancer is one of the leading causes of death among men
- Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men.
- About 1 in 7 men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime.
- Prostate cancer mainly occurs in older men; about 6 in 10 cases are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older. It is much rarer for men younger than 40 years old to develop prostate cancer.
- The average age of diagnosis is about 66 years old.
- In 2015, it is estimated that there will be more than 27,500 deaths from prostate cancer
The researchers said that the analysis in their study is better at forecasting how prostate cancer will advance compared to the current diagnostic tests being used for prostate cancer such as the prostate specific antigen test and the Gleason score.
The study involved 259 men with prostate cancer. Among the 259 men, 482 tumor, benign and germline samples were looked at. The researchers analyzed the samples and looked for genetic differences that made it so that the researchers could categorize the study participants into groups regarding targeted treatments specific to their prostate cancer.
The researchers found more than just minimal differences in the tumors. They actually found five different types of prostate cancer which were based on 100 genes. These 100 genes demonstrated the risk of disease progression which was more accurate than the currently used Gleason score test and PSA test. Prior research had shown 6=six of the genes were linked to prostate cancer, however researchers noted in the published study that it turns out the other 94 genes had not been associated with prostate cancer until now.
Malcolm Mason, a prostate cancer expert at Cancer Research UK, said in a press release, "This research could be game-changing if the results hold up in larger clinical trials and could give us better information to guide each man's treatment -- even helping us to choose between treatments for men with aggressive cancers." He also said, "Ultimately this could mean more effective treatment for the men who need it, helping to save more lives and improve the quality of life for many thousands of men with prostate cancer."