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Genetic Markers Associated with Survival in Prostate Cancer

Alterations in the genetic regions referred to as MYC and PTEN are associated with a significantly decreased survival among men with early prostate cancer who undergo a prostatectomy. These results were recently published in the journal Cancer.

Early prostate cancer refers to cancer that has not spread from the prostate to distant sites in the body. A prostatectomy, or complete surgical removal of the prostate, is one treatment option for patients with the disease.

Typically, long-term survival is favorable for patients with early prostate cancer. However, there remains a significant portion of patients who succumb to the disease early, and researchers are trying to understand which variables might lead to the different outcomes in these patients.

Researchers from the United States and Europe recently evaluated data from DNA samples of patients with prostate cancer. The data was from 125 patients diagnosed with early prostate cancer who had undergone a prostatectomy. DNA from the tumor samples were run through machinery that detected alterations within the genes.

Differences (chromosomal copy number alterations (CNAs)) of 2 genetic regions, MYC and PTEN, were associated with a significant reduction in survival.
Patients with CNAs of the MYC and PTEN had an approximate 50% increased risk of early death than those without the CNAs of those regions.
The researchers concluded that these results “suggests that patients whose tumors have acquired CNAs of PTEN, MYC, or both have an increased risk of early PCa [prostate cancer]-specific mortality.”

These results provide further evidence that genetics plays a large role in cancer, with each patient having individualized characteristics of their cancer. Based on this growing body of evidence, it appears that cancer will continue in the direction of treatment based on individual variables of every patient.

Reference: Liu W, Xie C, Thomas C, et al. Genetic markers associated with early cancer-specific mortality following prostatectomy. Cancer. Article first published online: 22 APR 2013. DOI: 10.1002/cncr.27954.