Molecular Tools Help Tell Deadly Cancer from Its Milder Kiny

Robert Getzenberg, Ph.D., Director of Research, calls it “assembling a set of tools.” He’s talking about new biomarkers to help doctors diagnose prostate cancer and also predict its course — tell whether it’s likely to be aggressive, or whether its growth will be slower and more benign. A new protein looks to be a promising addition to the toolbox.

“ The goal is to help determine
which men have prostate cancer
with lethal potential.”

It’s called Cyr61 (for cysteine-rich angiogenic inducer 61), and it is involved in the cell’s connection to is environment. With a team of scientists, including pathologist George Netto, epidemiologist Elizabeth Platz, and Katherine D’Antonio, a graduate student, Getzenberg examined the link between Cyr61 and recurrence of cancer. They looked at “staining intensity,” or how much of the protein showed up in stained tissue samples of 558 men who were treated surgically for clinically localized prostate cancer.

“Taking into account age, pathological stage and grade, PSA concentration, and other factors, men with the highest level of staining intensity in their cancer were 56 percent less likely to have a recurrence of cancer than men with a lower staining intensity,” says Getzenberg, the Donald S. Coffey Professor of Urology. “Therefore, high Cyr61 staining intensity within the prostate cancer was associated with a lower risk of recurrence after treatment.” Although more work is needed, Getzenberg believes this test and others, used alone or in combination, can help with “risk stratification.

The goal is to help determine which men have prostate cancer with lethal potential, and which have very low-risk cancer, who may be more appropriately treated with a program such as our Proactive Surveillance.” The team’s findings are due to be published in the journal, Clinical Cancer Research.

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