New research has identified 5 inherited genetic variants linked to the most deadly prostate cancers (Lin DW et al. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2011;20:1928-1936). Such findings might help identify patients most likely to benefit from aggressive therapy and help avoid overtreatment of patients whose tumors are likely to remain localized.
An international team led by researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle analyzed DNA in blood samples taken from a population-based group of 1309 patients with prostate cancer in the Seattle area. The scientists examined 937 variants of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 156 genes that play roles in biological pathways (such as inflammation and DNA repair) that may contribute to prostate cancer progression. Twenty-two SNPs were significantly associated with prostate cancer–specific mortality; in a subsequent validation study in 2875 patients with prostate cancer in Sweden, 5 of the 22 SNPs remained significantly associated with death from prostate cancer.
Hampton T. Lethal Prostate Cancer Variants. JAMA. 2011;306(13):1431. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1389