Scientists Identify Why Some Prostate Cancers Are More Prone to Result in Mortality
New research from the University of East Anglia in the UK reveals that the number of DESNT cells in a tumor makes some prostate cancers more aggressive – and more deadly.
Title: University of East Anglia Researchers Discover Three New Subtypes of Prostate Cancer
Most American men diagnosed with prostate cancer will not die from it, but the disease remains the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among men due to its high prevalence.
The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be around 191,930 new cases of prostate cancer and 33,330 deaths in the United States this year. Predicting the aggressiveness of a tumor continues to be a treatment challenge.
The University of East Anglia’s new research offers insights into why certain prostate cancers are more aggressive and likely to cause death than others.
“Prostate cancer generally develops slowly, and most cancers will not require treatment in a man’s lifetime,” said Colin Cooper, a cancer researcher from the Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia. “However, doctors struggle to predict which tumors will become aggressive, making it difficult to decide on treatment for many men.”
“This means that many thousands of men are treated unnecessarily, increasing the risk of harmful side effects, including surgery-related impotence.”
Their findings revealed that the number of aggressive cells in a tumor sample determines how quickly the disease will progress and spread. They also discovered three new subtypes of prostate cancer. They hope their research will help eliminate unnecessary treatments that may have harmful side effects.
The researchers developed a test to distinguish aggressive prostate cancers from less threatening forms of the disease using a complex mathematical model called Latent Process Decomposition.
“By applying Latent Process Decomposition and analyzing global datasets on prostate cancer, we discovered an aggressive form of prostate cancer known as DESNT – which has the worst clinical outcomes for patients,” said Vincent Moulton, a collaborator from the School of Computing Sciences at the university.
The team studied gene expression levels in 1,785 tumor samples and found that the more DESNT cells, the faster the progress and spread of the disease.
Dr. Daniel Brewster, co-lead researcher, added that patients with a tumor that is mostly composed of DESNT cells are more likely to develop metastatic diseases where other parts of the body are affected by malignancy.
“This research highlights the importance of using more complex approaches for genomic data analysis,” he said.
The results are published in the British Journal of Cancer.