ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Prostate cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in men worldwide after lung cancer. But there are also 3.1 million men who are living with it. And, there’s not a lot that men can do to reduce their risk. Now, researchers have identified two new markers that could predict whether men will develop prostate cancer.
One in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime with the average age of diagnosis at 66. And many of them won’t survive.
“Death from prostate cancer is at an all-time high … 29,000 deaths a year in the United States,” shared Daniel George, MD, Professor, Medicine & Surgery, Duke Cancer Institute.
Catching the cancer early could greatly improve a man’s chances of living with it.
Dr. George continued, “As prostate cancer screening has decreased, we’ve actually seen men presenting with a little bit more advanced and aggressive disease.”
In a new study, researchers followed more than 200,000 men for six to seven years. They found the men with higher concentrations of two hormones in their blood, free testosterone and IGF 1, were more likely to develop prostate cancer over the course of the study. Specifically, men with the highest levels of IGF 1 had a 25 percent greater risk and those with the highest free testosterone levels had an 18 percent higher risk. Other predictors that may raise the risk of prostate cancer include: being older or obese, having a family history of the disease, or being a black man.
In this study, the researchers say that because the blood tests were taken some years before the prostate cancer developed, it is likely that the hormone levels are leading to the increased risk of prostate cancer, as opposed to the cancers leading to higher levels of the hormones.
Contributors to this news report include: Julie Marks, Field Producer; and Roque Correa, Editor.
PREDICTING PROSTATE CANCER
BACKGROUND: Prostate cancer begins when cells in the prostate gland start to grow out of control. The prostate is a gland found only in males and makes some of the fluid that is part of semen. About 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. It is more likely to develop in older men and in African-American men. About 6 out of 10 cases are diagnosed in men who are 65 or older, and it is rare in men under 40. The average age at diagnosis is about 66. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind lung cancer. About 1 in 41 men will die of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer can be a serious disease, but most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it.
SYMPTOMS AND SCREENING TESTS: Early prostate cancer usually causes no symptoms. However, more advanced prostate cancers can cause problems urinating or the need to urinate more often, especially at night; blood in the urine or semen; trouble getting an erection (erectile dysfunction or ED); pain in the hips, back, chest, or other areas from cancer that has spread to bones; weakness or numbness in the legs or feet; or even loss of bladder or bowel control from cancer pressing on the spinal cord. Screening is testing to find cancer in people before they have symptoms. For some types of cancer, screening can help find cancers at an early stage. Prostate cancer can often be found early by testing for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels in a man’s blood. Another way to find prostate cancer is the digital rectal exam (DRE). If the results of either of these tests is abnormal, further testing (such as a prostate biopsy) is often done.
NEW RESEARCH FOR PROSTATE CANCER: Duke Cancer Institute researchers have successfully halted prostate cancer cells that are resistant to hormone therapy in lab studies, offering a possible breakthrough for those living with the disease. “We noticed in prostate cancer there are two types of cells,” said senior author Jiaoti Huang, MD, PhD, chair of Duke’s Department of Pathology. “The vast majority are luminal tumor cells, which are susceptible to hormone therapy. But a minor component of cells are neuroendocrine cells, and they are very important. They do not express the androgen receptor, so they will survive hormonal therapy,” said Dr. Huang. The researchers identified a cell surface receptor that is essential for the function and survival of resistant prostate cancer cells and showed in laboratory studies that this receptor can be targeted to halt tumor growth.
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