Scientists Reveal Genetic Root of Prostate Cancer

A team of scientists in the UK have revealed the genetic root of prostate cancers in men. The researchers have already discovered that cancer cells taken from different sites within a man's prostate can be very diverse genetically.


Despite this, the new study found that cancer cells moving away from the prostate share genetic faults that are unique to the man whose cancer it is. This could potentially offer new targets for treatment

Study Analyzes Genetics Role in Prostate Cancer

Published in the journal Nature, from lead author, Professor Ros Eeles from the Institute of Cancer Research in London. 

This researchs marks the beginning of the International Cancer Genome Consortium, a global project committed to revealing genetic changes driving prostate cancer, using the most up to date gene sequencing technology available

  • Researchers analyzed tumor samples from 10 men with prostate cancer
  • They mapped a "family tree" of changes occurring at a genetic level as the cancer develops
  • They also learned more about how the disease spreads through the body and forms new tumors.


  • What they discovered - the first group of cells that spread from the prostate continues to travel throughout the body, developing new tumors as it goes.
  • Researchers say they gained a much broader view of prostate cancer by studying both the original cancer and the cells that had spread to other parts of the body in these men
  • They also found that all of the cells that had broken free shared a common ancestor cell in the prostate
  • Once cancer cells have spread, they continue to evolve genetically, therefore choosing the most effective treatments will remain a key challenge

Prostate Cancer Quick Facts

  • Second most common cancer in American men behind skin cancer
  • Second most common cause of cancer death behind lung cancer.
  • Around 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime.
  • About 1 man in 38 will die of prostate cancer.
  • Prostate cancer occurs mainly in older men.
    • About 6 cases in 10 are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older, and it is rare before age 40.
    • The average age at the time of diagnosis is about 66.
  • American Cancer Society estimates in 2015, around 220,800 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed, and 27,540 deaths as a result of prostate cancer
  • More than 2.9 million men in the United States who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point are still alive today.

Genetics: Future of Prostate Cancer Treatments?

The study’s findings explain in detail the complex patterns of metastasis and further our understanding of the development of resistance to androgen-deprivation therapy in prostate cancer. Some experts believe that in order to find these shared genetic faults, multiple biopsies may be needed

More patients must be studied to learn how to apply these findings to develop more personalized treatments for people with prostate cancer. Learning how cancer cells change and evolve as they metastasize and become resistant to certain forms of treatment is crucial to developing future treatments for all forms of cancer.

Many of these shared mutations are in tumor suppressor genes and the approach to therapeutically targeting these needs to be prioritized. More data needs to be collected on the impact different therapies have on prostate cancer's evolution and spread.