Genomics, Studies Try to Uncover Prostate Cancer

Approximately 2.5 million men in the nation currently have prostate cancer, and African-Americans are 60 percent more likely to develop the disease than whites. (Courtesy of nationalurbanmedia.com)
Andy Dang, a lab assistant at Genomic Health, labels cancer tissue sample transfer tubes for an RNA extraction process. The company's new genetic test to gauge the aggressiveness of prostate cancer may help men decide whether they need to treat their cancer right away or can safely monitor it. (Genomic Health/AP)
Andy Dang, a lab assistant at Genomic Health, labels cancer tissue sample transfer tubes for an RNA extraction process. The company’s new genetic test to gauge the aggressiveness of prostate cancer may help men decide whether they need to treat their cancer right away or can safely monitor it.
(Genomic Health/AP)

Paul Jablow, The Inquirer

 
(Philly.com) — For researchers, physicians – and patients – prostate cancer has always been among the most maddening and elusive of foes.

The third-most common cancer in the United States, behind breast and lung cancers, its course is less predictable than either.

It can remain dormant in a man’s body until he dies decades later from something else. Or it can spread aggressively and kill.

The riddle has been how to tell one cancer from another. Now researchers at Thomas Jefferson University and elsewhere think they are coming closer to solving it through increasingly sophisticated genetic studies.

The payoff would be in saving lives, and also in avoiding the overuse of surgery, radiation, and other treatments that have debilitating side effects. Additionally, genetic testing may help unlock another mystery of the disease: why African American men are more likely than others to suffer the most aggressive forms of it.

 

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