Tag Archives: cancer

Prostate cancer ‘gene test’ hope

9 February 2011 Last updated at 07:41

Prostate cancer ‘gene test’ hope

Experts believe they can develop a genetic screening test that can tell doctors which men with prostate cancer need aggressive treatment.

Early trial results for Cancer Research UK suggest men with high levels of cell cycle progression (CCP) genes have the most deadly tumours.

The CCP test could potentially save men with milder forms of the disease from unnecessary treatment

Large-scale studies are now needed, the Lancet Oncology journal reports.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK, with new cases diagnosed in around 37,000 men every year.

At present, doctors can struggle to predict how aggressive tumours are and rely on tests and examinations that can be less than reliable.

For example, one of the tests currently used – the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test – can give a worrying result even if a cancer is not present.
Cancer Research UK estimates that about two-thirds of men with an elevated PSA level (measured as > 4ng/ml) will not have prostate cancer but will suffer the anxiety, discomfort and risk of follow-up investigations.

It’s for this very reason that UK experts have recommended against a screening programme for prostate cancer.

But experts from Queen Mary, University of London, hope their new CCP test – alongside existing tests like PSA – could be used routinely in the clinic to overcome this problem.

Greater accuracy

Professor Jack Cuzick, who led the research, said: “Our findings have great potential. CCP genes are expressed at higher levels in actively growing cells, so we could be indirectly measuring the growth rate and inherent aggressiveness of the tumour through our test.

“We already know that CCP levels can predict survival for breast and, more recently, brain and lung cancers.

“It’s really encouraging that this could also be applied to prostate cancer, where we desperately need a way to predict how aggressive the disease will be.”

His study, which included 703 men with prostate cancer, found CCP could predict likely disease outcomes.

In the study, men with the highest levels of CCP genes were three times more likely than those with the lowest levels to have a fatal form of prostate cancer.

And for patients who have had surgery to remove their prostate, those with the highest CCP levels were 70% more likely to have a recurrence of the disease.

Dr Helen Rippon, head of research management at the Prostate Cancer Charity, said the findings were promising but needed replicating in larger trials before the test could be considered for routine use.

“It will therefore be some time before men diagnosed with prostate cancer will see any direct benefit from this research,” she said.


‘Sat nav’ cancer device at Merseyside centre

‘Sat nav’ cancer device at Merseyside centre

About 800 patients are due to benefit from the machine at the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre in its first year.

A groundbreaking radiotherapy device which could transform the way some cancer patients are treated goes into service on Merseyside later.

The Novalis Tx machine will allow doctors to treat tumours almost anywhere in the body in one session.

It uses a system similar to a ‘sat nav’ to destroy cancerous cells but helps to protect surrounding healthy tissue.

About 800 patients are due to benefit from the machine at the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre in its first year.

Dr Brian Haylock, consultant oncologist and clinical director for radiotherapy, said: “Unlike some other highly specialised radiation treatment machines, the Novalis Tx can treat many different types of cancer all over the body allowing us to treat more cancer patients with a single device.

“This coupled with the speed with which we can treat patients – in some cases in as little as 15 minutes in just one session – means the equipment will be available for the benefit of more patients here in the UK.”

‘Inspirational stuff’
The machines will also go into service at two other centres in Manchester and Edinburgh.

Almost 300,000 people are diagnosed with cancer in the UK every year.

Recent estimates show that of those, almost 50,000 people develop either primary or secondary brain tumours.

Sue Farrington-Smith, director of Brain Tumour Research, said: “We are delighted that advanced brain tumour treatments like the Novalis Tx are now available to cancer patients on the NHS.

“The work of Clatterbridge and The Walton Centre Trusts in Liverpool will undoubtedly provide the best cancer care for their patients. This is inspirational stuff.”