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Prostate Cancer Targets and Biomarkers
September 25, 2015
Consider these facts on prostate cancer. More than 200,000 men will develop prostate cancer this year, making it the #1 cancer in men after skin cancer. Almost 30,000 men will die of prostate cancer, second only to lung cancer.
Recently a study identified potential actionable targets for prostate cancer, shedding light on what drives prostate cancer. An international group of researchers looked at 150 men with metastatic, advanced prostate cancer that had become resistant to treatment. They found almost two thirds had mutations in the male hormone androgen receptor. Nearly a quarter had mutations in DNA repair genes including BRCA. This may allow for drugs approved in other BRCA driven cancers to be used in patients with advanced prostate cancer. Additionally, eight percent of patients had a heritable mutation, raising the possibility that some forms of prostate cancer are inherited and genetic counseling may be of benefit.
“While previous studies have surveyed the genomic characteristics of tumors confined to the prostate gland, the new study is the first to focus on metastatic hormone resistant prostate cancers, which can be difficult to treat because they often develop resistance to standard treatments.”
Research also continues in the search for more effective biomarkers of prostate cancer. Traditionally prostatic specific antigen (PSA) has been used. However, PSA is not specific for cancer. It can be elevated in benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), inflammation and infection. Other emerging markers can be broken into a few major categories: protein, genetic, circulating micro RNAs, immunologic, microparticles, circulating tumor cells, prostasomes and exosomes.
Pathologists play a major role in precision medicine. They are instrumental in the diagnosis and testing for the presence of actionable mutations in tumors that allow matching the right drug to the right patient at the right time. Many of the new and emerging biomarkers for prostate cancer have been developed with the help of pathologists. Follow Path Report to learn more.