Cancer grading gets an upgrade

July 14, 2014 by Rosie Hales, Queen's University
Cancer grading gets an upgrade
A microscope view of prostate cancer. Credit: David M. Berman, 2014.

(Medical Xpress)—Prostate cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer among Canadian men but only about half of these cancers grow rapidly enough to require treatment.

However, determining which prostate cancers need to be treated can be tricky because it's hard to predict through biopsy which cancers will eventually become harmful. In fact, because biopsies often do not yield accurate information, between a third and half of patients initially diagnosed with harmless prostate cancers are likely to be "upgraded" to potentially harmful cancers within a year or two of diagnosis.

A research team led by Dr. David Berman, a professor in the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine at Queen's, and Dr. Tamara Lotan from Johns Hopkins University discovered that the decline of a specific protein within a tumour could help identify the tumours requiring treatment.

"We have shown that a tumour-suppressing protein called phosphatase and tensin homolog, or PTEN, is lost most frequently in prostate tumours that will become harmful and require treatment," says Dr. Berman. "The team from Johns Hopkins has done a terrific job of making this test more reliable and valid and applicable to prostate cancer and to other forms of cancer."Currently, the Gleason Grading system is used to determine the harmful potential of prostate cancers. Scores usually range from 6 to 10, with lower numbers often indicating cancers that are unlikely to become harmful.

One hundred and seventy four patients with a Gleason score of 6 had The team measured PTEN levels in cancers biopsied from 174 patients, who appeared to have harmless cancers with Gleason scores of 6 or less. Seventy-one of these cases were upgraded to potentially harmful cancers with a score of 7 after the entire was surgically removed and examined by pathologists. Importantly, PTEN loss found in biopsies helped separate harmless cancers from their more dangerous look-alikes.

"The 71 patients who had their tumours upgraded had a three times higher rate of PTEN loss than the group that was accurately graded," says Dr. Berman. "Although the percentage of who have PTEN loss is low, this finding is extremely exciting as it proves that measuring proteins in biopsies can improve accuracy. Also, it's a fairly simple test that could be done in any pathology lab."

Explore further: Scientists finally discover which prostate cancers are life-threatening

Related Stories

Scientists finally discover which prostate cancers are life-threatening

November 19, 2013
Cancer Research UK scientists have discovered that the presence of a specific protein can distinguish between prostate cancers that are aggressive and need further treatment from those that may never seriously harm the patient.

3-D mapping biopsy finds 3x prostate cancer of ultrasound-guided biopsy

February 4, 2014
Ultrasound-guided biopsies miss prostate cancers that are detected by the slightly more expensive and slightly more invasive 3D mapping biopsies. For example, in a 2006 study of 180 men diagnosed with early stage prostate ...

Chronic inflammation linked to 'high-grade' prostate cancer

April 18, 2014
Men who show signs of chronic inflammation in non-cancerous prostate tissue may have nearly twice the risk of actually having prostate cancer than those with no inflammation, according to results of a new study led by researchers ...

Prostate cancer biomarkers identified in seminal fluid

June 6, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Improved diagnosis and management of one of the most common cancers in men - prostate cancer - could result from research at the University of Adelaide, which has discovered that seminal fluid (semen) contains ...

Scientists find protein's bad guy role in prostate cancer

May 10, 2011
It's a disease affecting those closest to us – our fathers, brothers and sons.

Study finds prostate cancer tests underestimate disease in half of cases

April 11, 2014
A study published in the British Journal of Cancer suggests that tests to grade and stage prostate cancer underestimated the severity of the disease in half of men whose cancers had been classified as 'slow growing'.

Recommended for you

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

January 18, 2018
Cancer metastasis, the migration of cells from a primary tumor to form distant tumors in the body, can be triggered by a chronic leakage of DNA within tumor cells, according to a team led by Weill Cornell Medicine and Memorial ...

Modular gene enhancer promotes leukemia and regulates effectiveness of chemotherapy

January 18, 2018
Every day, billions of new blood cells are generated in the bone marrow. The gene Myc is known to play an important role in this process, and is also known to play a role in cancer. Scientists from the German Cancer Research ...

These foods may up your odds for colon cancer

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—Chowing down on red meat, white bread and sugar-laden drinks might increase your long-term risk of colon cancer, a new study suggests.

The pill lowers ovarian cancer risk, even for smokers

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—It's known that use of the birth control pill is tied to lower odds for ovarian cancer, but new research shows the benefit extends to smokers or women who are obese.

Researchers develop swallowable test to detect pre-cancerous Barrett's esophagus

January 17, 2018
Investigators at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center have developed a simple, swallowable test for early detection of Barrett's esophagus that offers promise ...

Scientists zoom in to watch DNA code being read

January 17, 2018
Scientists have unveiled incredible images of how the DNA code is read and interpreted—revealing new detail about one of the fundamental processes of life.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.