New epigenetic markers for prostate cancer discovered

New epigenetic biomarkers to predict more aggressive forms of prostate cancer have been discovered by scientists at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research.

The biomarkers can be used in combination with traditional clinical tools to predict if a man will go on to develop a more metastatic and lethal form of the disease and could help clinicians to develop a better treatment plan.

“There’s a need for men with prostate cancer to have more personalised treatments guided by the nature of their tumours, and they can’t get that without new biomarkers that can better predict the risk of developing the lethal form the disease,” says Professor Susan Clark, Head of the Epigenetic Research lab at Garvan and lead researcher of the study.

Prostate cancer is, globally, the second most common cancer diagnosed in men. After diagnosis, about 50 percent of men will develop metastatic cancer during their lifetime. Typically, metastasis takes 15 or more years to develop, but a small percentage of men develop a fatal, metastatic form much earlier after diagnosis.

By identifying patients who might go on to develop this form of prostate cancer at the early stages, clinicians could begin more aggressive treatments earlier.

The new study is published in the journal, Clinical and Translational Medicine.

This is one of the most long-term and comprehensive molecular studies of prostate cancer progression. The slow progression of the disease makes studying its biology difficult.

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