New Marker May Spot More Aggressive Prostate Cancer

Two men may have the same Gleason score, PSA , and clinical stage of cancer. But it's possible that one of them has a more aggressive tumor – one that is more likely to come back after surgery. That man, and his doctors, would give anything for this information up front. Scientist George Netto, M.D., is working to make that happen. With collaborators at the departments of Urology, Oncology and Pathology and the Bloomberg School of Public Health, he has been evaluating the role of a new potential prognostic biomarker, called PTEN, in prostate cancer. 

PTEN, a protein molecule, helps keep rampant tumor growth in check by controlling a key pathway responsible for cell growth and metabolism in cancer. The scientists studied multiple tumor cores from more than 700 prostate cancer patients at the Brady. Tissue samples were arrayed on a set of 16 slides and analyzed using a special antibody that targets the PTEN molecule. Their study, published in the Journal of Modern Pathology, showed that when the PTEN protein was diminished or missing, there was a higher likelihood that a man's prostate cancer would come back after surgery. "Such studies performed at our institution could have significant implications on our future ability to stratify management of prostate cancer patients," says Netto, "and make treatment more personalized based on a man's individual, predicted risk of future cancer behavior."

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