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Will prostate cancer reoccur? Three-gene signature may hold answer

thumbnail Prostate prognosis—Dr. Addanki Kumar, South Texas Veterans Health Care System, is working to identify a genetic signature that can predict which prostate tumors are likely to spread and reoccur. (Photo by Lester Rosebrock)

Prostate cancer is usually a slow-growing disease that causes no problems during a man's lifetime. In other cases, the disease is fast-growing and life-threatening: Telling the difference and predicting which men need aggressive treatment can be a challenge for doctors. Scientists at the South Texas Veterans Health Care System and the University of Texas Health Science Center have come up with a "three-gene signature" they say can help solve the problem. Examining prostate tissue from 64 men with recurrent or non-recurrent prostate cancer, the group tested a panel of biomarkers based on three genes, known as FLIP, Sp1, and Sp3. Used in combination with the Gleason score—an established measure of how aggressive a tumor is—the panel showed 93-percent accuracy in identifying which tumors were recurrent and more likely to spread beyond the prostate and into other parts of the body. That beats any existing tests, say the researchers. They now plan to evaluate the genetic signature in a larger study. The recent work was funded by VA and the National Cancer Institute. (PLoS One, online Sept. 13, 2012)

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