A team of researchers at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute and Addenbrooke's Hospital have identified five different subtypes of prostate cancer in males. The research team identified the prostate cancer subtypes having distinct DNA signatures with the help of the genomic profiling of men suffering from prostate cancer.
According to the researchers, an analysis of a genetic fingerprint can actually tell which form of prostate cancer is more likely to be aggressive in terms of expression. The researchers hope that identification of the prostate cancer subtypes and the intensity associated with each subtype can help device target-specific treatments and therapies.
During the study, the researchers studied 100 genes associated with the occurrence of the prostate cancer. Based on the analysis of the 100 genes, the researchers were able to divide them into five distinct categories of prostate cancer, each with a distinct fingerprint.
"These findings could help doctors decide on the best course of treatment for each individual patient, based on the characteristics of their tumor," said lead study author, Dr. Alastair Lamb. The complete details of the study have been published in the journal EbioMedicine.
According to the research team, a few forms of prostate cancer spread slowly and cause less harm to the patients, while the others spread aggressively and form the more dangerous subtype. The team further says that the tests currently use to diagnose cancer, such as the prostate-specific antigen test, or PSA, is unable to differentiate between the subtypes of prostate cancer.
Under such circumstances where the subtle type of cancer cannot be differentiated with the most aggressive form, there are chances that the patient is subjected to excessive tests and medication that they might not be required at all. On the other hand, men requiring more intensive treatment might not be getting it at all.
"This research could be game-changing if the results hold up in larger clinical trials and could give us better information to guide each man's treatment - even helping us to choose between treatments for men with aggressive cancers,” said Malcolm Mason, a prostate cancer expert at the Cancer Research UK.
Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer among males in the UK. It is estimated that out of 41,700 cases of prostate diagnosed each year, nearly 10,800 males die of the disease in the UK. Meanwhile, in the US, there are 27,540 deaths each year from the disease.