(RxWiki News) Recent genetic studies on prostate cancer have found an entirely new variation that does not follow the normal pattern and could represent an entirely different sort of cancer.
Further study could result in different treatments available for this kind of prostate cancer.
While a lot of cancers get lumped together based on where they occur, there are a lot of different roads that cells take to get from healthy to tumor.
Knowing which road can tell doctors a lot about which treatments will work and what won't.
"Ask your oncologist about genetic sequencing for your cancer."
Researchers working together from Weill Cornell Medical College, MIT, Harvard and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute found that this variation involving the SPOP gene could represent as much as 15 percent of all prostate cancer cases. Most importantly, the mutation is unique to prostate cancer, which could result in greatly beneficial targeted therapy.
Scientists sequenced 112 prostate tumors and compared them to normal samples from the same patient. These findings were then compared to 400 other sequenced pairs, which proved the genetic relationship wasn't a fluke.
The significant of this new variation of prostate cancer with a mutation in the SPOP gene is just one of the latest findings that this team of scientists has discovered in their research as they slowly build a comprehensive picture of the genetics involved behind prostate cancer development.
Due to the recent nature of the discovery, all the characteristics of this subtype of prostate cancer are not well known, but as more data becomes available and more genetic sequencing is done on cancer patients, that will change.
Most importantly, the normal series of mutations involved in prostate cancer was completely absent in these SPOP prostate cancers, meaning that it really is a different type of prostate cancer and not just an earlier stage.
As a prostate cancer specialist, Christopher Barbieri MD says this kind of research is the stuff oncologists are looking for in published studies.
"We have very limited information available to us now on the particular biology of the tumor that prostate cancer patients have, and how best to treat that cancer," Dr. Barbieri stated. "But given the finding that SPOP mutations form a distinct kind of cancer, and if you low ball the incidence at about 10 percent of all tumors, that means, every year, 25,000 men in the U.S. will be diagnosed with tumors that have this mutation. "
"That is a large number. Knowing what these mutations mean may give us huge clues about how the patient's cancer will progress and how they might be best treated in the future," Dr. Barbieri concludes.
The study was published in the journal Nature Genetics on May 20, 2012.
Funding was provided by the Starr Cancer Consortium, the National Institutes of Health, the Early Detection Research Network of the National Cancer Institute, the Kohlberg Foundation, the Prostate Cancer Foundation, and the United States Department of Defense.