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Genetic Marker Linked to Aggressive Prostate Cancer

nsive Cancer Center at Northwestern University. Researchers wanted to identify the characteristics of prostate cancer in men who were carriers of these genetic markers to see if their cancer differed from that in men who did not carry the gene variant.

"We found the carriers of these 8q24 markers had more aggressive tumors, said Helfand. Patients who were carriers had cancers that were more likely to spread into the lymph nodes and were more difficult to surgically remove.

The patients in the Northwestern study had been treated by William Catalona, M.D., professor of urology and director of the Clinical Prostate Cancer Program at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center. Catalona is a co-principal investigator of the study.

"We have the largest and best-detailed prostate cancer population to perform this study because Dr. Catalona has a rich database and follow-up on all of his patients," noted Helfand.

The 8q24 genetic variation was originally discovered by deCODE genetics, a biopharmaceutical company in Iceland, in collaboration with Catalona of Northwestern and two other research groups. That study was first reported in Nature Genetics in June, 2006.

Since then, the genetic variant has been widely duplicated by prestigious genetic research groups around the country. This is the first time that a genetic mutation associated with prostate cancer has been found in a large segment of the population.

The initial study by deCODE genetics showed that men who carry the genetic marker have a 60 percent increase in risk of the disease.

Genetic markers, also called alleles, occupy a specific position on a chromosome. The alleles linked to the aggressive prostate cancer found by Northwestern and other labs over the past year are located on the long arm of chromosome 8.


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