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Prostate cancer survival predictions and the relationship with genetic abnormalities

Three genetic abnormalities significantly impacts life expectancy for prostate cancer patients. This information was publicly released on January 27, 2010 by the British Journal of Cancer. The information is most exciting for some but not all patients.

Researchers and scientist at The Institute of Cancer Research have stated that patients could be tested for the abnormalities to assist in making better treatment decisions and the intensity of the treatments. A special technique is used to examine three specific alterations of genetic material in cancer prostate samples from over three hundred patients. The objective was to find if there was a loss of a gene known as PTEN and a rearrangement of the ETV1 and ERG.

Scientist Dr Alison Reid says the presence or absence of these abnormalities has a major impact on a patient's risk of dying from prostate cancer. Doctor Reid stated that "In this study, we found that patients who had none of these genetic alterations had a good prognosis - 85.5 per cent were still alive after 11 years," Dr Reid says. "Happily, the majority of prostate cancer sufferers in this study, 54 per cent, were in this category."

Doctor Reid continued, "But the prognosis was unfortunately much worse for the six per cent of patients who had lost the PTEN gene but had neither an ERG nor ETV1 gene rearrangement. These patients had a much higher risk of dying from prostate cancer; long-term follow-up showed only 13.7 per cent were still alive after 11 years.

There are prostate cancers that grow very slowly and usually require no treatment, while others may be so fast in development that the risk of being fatal is exponential in comparison. Finding biological markers like these will help physicians distinguish patients from the two groups.

According to Dr. Helen Rippon, Head of Research at The Prostate Cancer Charity says that testing could be very useful in cases where traditional indicators – such as tumor grade suggest that urgent treatment may not be necessary.

Please note that this is new information and many studies are yet to be developed and formulated, hence it is not advisable to assume a life expectancy until further studies have been completed and conclusive with the results of this study in England. This writer will keep you abreast as to the status of all studies and outcomes related to these gene type rearrangements.

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