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5 Genes Linked to Aggressive Prostate Cancer

Study Could Lead to Test That Determines Which Patients Need Aggressive Treatment

Identifying High-Risk Patients continued...

Five of the 22 SNPs emerged as being significantly associated with death from prostate cancer in this larger group of patients.

The variants included:

  • LEPR, a leptin receptor gene involved in tissue growth, inflammation, the development of blood vessels and bone density. The bone density association may explain why prostate cancers often spread to the bone before spreading to other organs, the researchers suggested.
  • RNASEL, a gene associated with programmed cell death, inflammation, and the ability of cells to multiply rapidly.
  • Interleukin 4, which is associated with tumor growth, blood vessel development, and cancer cell migration.
  • Cytochrome 1, which is a gene involved in circadian rhythms, which could affect testosterone levels.
  • ARVCF, a gene that is involved in cell communication, which has previously been linked to cancer progression.

Reducing Overtreatment for Prostate Cancer

Patients who carried four or all five of the SNPs had a 50% higher risk of dying from their cancer than patients who had two or fewer of the SNP variants.

The next step is to confirm the findings in different groups of patients and to determine if these five SNPs or any of the other identified gene variants are useful for predicting death from prostate cancer, Stanford says.

The study was published online today and will appear in the September issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.

Phelps says finding better tests to identify patients who will benefit from therapy is an important goal for reducing the harms from prostate cancer overtreatment, along with finding more effective targeted therapies that do not have life-altering side effects.

"There has been an explosion of research examining targeted cancer therapies, and while we haven't struck pay dirt in prostate cancer yet, I think it's just a matter of time," he says.

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