Agent Orange exposure linked to life-threatening prostate cancer

A new analysis has found a link between exposure to Agent Orange and lethal forms of prostate cancer among US Veterans. Published early online in Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the findings suggest that Agent Orange exposure history should be incorporated into prostate screening decisions for Veterans.

The herbicide was heavily used during the era and was often contaminated with dioxin, a dangerous and potential . Prior research suggests that exposure to Agent Orange may increase men's risk of developing , but it is unclear whether it specifically increases their risk of developing lethal forms of the disease. "This is an important distinction as the majority of prostate cancer cases are non-lethal and thus do not necessarily require detection or therapy. Having a means of specifically detecting life-threatening cancer would improve the effectiveness of screening and treatment of prostate cancer," said Mark Garzotto, MD, of the Portland Veterans Administration Medical Center and Oregon Health & Science University.

To look for a link between Agent Orange exposure and life-threatening, or high-grade, prostate cancer, Nathan Ansbaugh, MPH, designed and conducted analyses on a group of 2,720 US Veterans who were referred by multiple providers for initial prostate biopsy. Biopsy results and clinical information were compiled for analysis by principal investigator Dr. Garzotto.

Prostate cancer was diagnosed in 896 (32.9 percent) of the Veterans; 459 (16.9 percent) had high-grade disease. Agent Orange exposure was linked with a 52 percent increase in overall risk of prostate cancer detection by biopsy. Exposure to the herbicide did not confer an increase in risk of low-grade prostate cancer, but it was linked with a 75 percent increase in risk of high-grade prostate cancer. In addition, Agent Orange exposure was associated with more than a two-fold increase in the highest-grade, most lethal cancers.

This study indicates that determining men's Agent Orange exposure status is a readily identifiable means of improving prostate cancer screening for US , allowing for earlier detection and treatment of lethal cases and potentially prolonging survival and improving quality of life. "It also should raise awareness about potential harms of chemical contaminants in biologic agents used in warfare and the risks associated with waste handling and other chemical processes that generate dioxin or dioxin-related compounds," said Dr. Garzotto.

More information: "Agent Orange as a risk factor for high-grade prostate cancer." Nathan Ansbaugh, Jackilen Shannon, Motomi Mori, Paige E. Farris, and Mark Garzotto. CANCER; Published Online: May 13, 2013 DOI: 10.1002/cncr.27941

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Generation of tanners see spike in deadly melanoma

6 hours ago

(AP)—Stop sunbathing and using indoor tanning beds, the acting U.S. surgeon general warned in a report released Tuesday that cites an alarming 200 percent jump in deadly melanoma cases since 1973.

Penn team makes cancer glow to improve surgical outcomes

7 hours ago

The best way to cure most cases of cancer is to surgically remove the tumor. The Achilles heel of this approach, however, is that the surgeon may fail to extract the entire tumor, leading to a local recurrence.

Cancer: Tumors absorb sugar for mobility

19 hours ago

Cancer cells are gluttons. We have long known that they monopolize large amounts of sugar. More recently, it became clear that some tumor cells are also characterized by a series of features such as mobility or unlikeliness ...

User comments