Recently, a study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine has identified eight gene mutations known as gene fusions which indicate aggressive forms of prostate cancer. This gives great hope for improved strategies for treatment.
The research focused on 289 prostate samples. Of those samples which had one or more of eight gene fusions, in 90% of the patients their prostate cancer recurred, metastasized or led to death. This compared with 37% recurrence in those who had none of the gene fusions. The study also showed that samples with even one of three specific fusions had a 100 percent chance of cancer recurrence.
This all means that doctors and patients can be a lot more confident in the taking action when they know that the likelihood of recurrence of prostate cancer is very high. Treatment that is more aggressive might include for example, a prostatectomy, radiation and/or hormone therapy.
Gene fusions, can occur from various factors including epigenetic ones such as exposure to radiation or other environmental risks that damage genes. The result can be a sometimes errant repair process that produces jumbled, abnormal chromosomes that can include sequence breaks and misplaced DNA sequences with unrelated chromosomes becoming conjoined.
The Pitt team sequenced all RNA in the human genome 1,333 times to discover the eight gene fusions. They also sequenced the entire genome 30 times. The three key fusions were shown to block development of proteins that suppress tumor growth.
The Pitt test would not serve as an initial test, such as the PSA test but would be used to test tissue in prostate biopsies that are positive for cancer in order to predict aggressiveness.
This is one of a number or exciting developments in the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer. The PHI test is one such new test, but some experts believe that the Pitt test might be better.