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"A biopsy needle does not need to hit a tumour to detect the presence of tumour," said lead researcher Professor Dan Mercola, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine / University of California at Irvine. "It is reminiscent of the game Battleship; we can detect more cancer cases using 12 shots with a biopsy needle than would otherwise be the case because we have made the ships bigger."
More than 1 million prostate biopsies are performed in the United States each year, and these diagnostic tests can miss up to 30 percent of clinically significant prostate cancers. As many as one third of patients receive repeat biopsies within a year due to equivocal first results, Mercola said. Based on these study results, physicians could possibly detect changes in non-tumour tissue that indicate a tumour may be present, which could allow patients to be given a follow-up biopsy sooner.
"Changes in the non-tumour tissue surrounding the tumour have long been considered to be important to tumour growth. Interfering with this process could have therapeutic value," he said. "The information in non-tumour tissue indicating 'presence of tumour' or not indicates who needs urgent re-biopsy and allows patients to consider alternative therapies to surgery or radiation such as neoadjuvant therapy or prostate cancer prevention treatment."
Mercola and colleagues obtained 364 samples from men of all races who had biopsies for possible prostate cancer, or had prostatectomies to remove cancer, as well as control prostates from donors that had died of causes other than prostate cancer.
They observed changes in the nearby non-tumour tissue and found that changes in gene expression in normal tissue could be detected up to a few millimetres from prostate cancer.
"It is known that at least some prostate cancers cause a reaction in nearby stroma," Mercola said. "However, we were surprised that a reaction may occur for most tumours, and that this response in non-tumour tissue may extend for many millimetres from the tumour."
Further studies will be required to confirm the findings, and before urologists will likely be able to use a diagnosis based on non-tumour tissue for recommending surgery or other radical treatment, according to the researchers. Wang added that these results, if confirmed, could provide guidance to the understanding of the tumour microenvironment, as cancer-stromal interaction plays a pivotal role in prostate cancer progression and bone metastasis.
MEDICA.de; Source: American Association for Cancer Research