FRIDAY, June 13, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- The traits of an aggressive type of prostate cancer that occurs in about 10 percent of men with the disease have been identified in hopes of finding a way to diagnose it early, according to researchers.
A team at the Michigan Center for Translational Pathology at the University of Michigan Health System found excess amounts of a gene called SPINK1 (serine peptidase inhibitor, Kazal type 1) in prostate cancers that do not have gene fusions of unrelated cells, a condition that plays a role in at least 50 percent of prostate cancer cases. This led them to believe that SPINK1 is a biomarker -- a molecule in bodily fluids, blood and tissue that can be a signal of a disease -- for a subtype of prostate cancer.
"Because SPINK1 can be found non-invasively in urine, a test could be developed that would complement current urine testing that is used to detect some prostate cancer or future urine tests for gene fusions," Dr. Arul Chinnaiyan, the center's director and senior author of the study, said in a prepared statement.
The findings, published in the June issue of Cancer Cell, also suggest that men with SPINK1-related prostate cancers tend to experience a recurrence of the disease faster than those with other types of prostate cancer.
The discovery came from the researchers analyzing data on 1,800 prostate cancers in search of common pieces of their genetic aberrations.
The National Cancer Institute estimates that this year, 186,320 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed, and more than 28,000 men will die from the disease.
The National Cancer Institute has more about prostate cancer.