The Five Different Types of Prostate Cancer

Scientists have identified five types of prostate cancer, each with a divergent genetic signature.

By analyzing the DNA of prostate cancer cells from 259 men, researchers identified five distinct prostate cancer subgroups called “iClusters”.

The subgroups described the genetic characteristics of the tumor and gave clues about how it might behave in the future.

The study was carried out by researchers from the University of Cambridge in collaboration with academic institutions from Europe and was financed by a large number of academic and charity medical research funders, including the National Institute for Health Research, Cancer Research UK, and the Swedish Cancer Society.

The full result of the study was published in the peer-reviewed medical journal EBioMedicine.

Beforehand, prostate cancer of all types was bundled up into a general category, which was wrong, leading to even more serious issues in terms of offering effective treatment, as various patients react differently to the treatment.

This challenge in treating prostate cancer is that it can either grow slowly and unlikely to cause major problems in a man’s lifetime, or it can spread aggressively, prompting for urgent treatment. However, at the moment, there is no reliable way to distinguish them.

This can lead to some men getting the treatment they do not need, triggering unnecessary side effects, while others might benefit from more intensive treatment.

In 2010, scientists discovered that breast cancer is at least ten different diseases, each with its own distinctive genetic signature.

This discovery was made using an integrated genomic approach in stratifying disease, and it was this landmark study that prompted researchers from the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute and Addenbrooke’s Hospital in the UK to investigate if the same techniques can be applied to prostate cancer.

Fast Facts about Prostate Cancer

  • A man’s prostate produces the seminal fluid that sustains and transports sperm.
  • Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most shared cancer in American men. 
  • An estimated 220,800 new cases of prostate cancer is usually diagnosed in the US annually
  • The American Cancer Society’s estimates for prostate cancer in the United States for 2017 are: about 161,360 new cases of prostate cancer and 26,730 deaths from prostate cancer
  • There are nearly 2.8 million American men living with prostate disease
  • The average age at the time of diagnosis is usually 69 years
  • Symptoms of prostate cancer include difficulty with urination, but sometimes there are no symptoms at all.
  • Some types of prostate cancer grow slowly, and in some of these cases, monitoring is recommended. 
  • Other types are aggressive and require radiation, surgery, hormone therapy, chemotherapy or other treatments.
  • African-American men are 65% more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than their Caucasian-Americans counterparts and are more than twice as likely to die from it. The reasons behind this disparity are yet to be known.
  • A nonsmoking man is more probable to get prostate cancer than lung, bronchus, colon, rectal, bladder, lymphoma, melanoma, oral and kidney cancers pooled.
  • Early prostate cancer usually shows no symptoms and is most commonly detected through prostate cancer screening tests such as the PSA blood test or the digital rectal exam.
  • The chance of having prostate cancer speedily increases after the age of 50. 
  • More than 70% of all prostate cancers are diagnosed in men over the age of 65, and it is still unclear why this increase with age occurs for prostate cancer.
  • The only well-established risk factors for prostate cancer include age, ethnicity and family history of the disease.
  • High dietary fat intake may also be a significant risk factor since a recent study shows that the risk of dying from prostate cancer increases with body weight.

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