According to an article recently published in Journal of the National Cancer Institute, levels of the zinc-alpha2-glycoprotein (ACGP1) may help predict the risk of cancer spread among patients with early prostate cancer.

The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that is located between the bladder and rectum in males. Treatment options for patients depend largely upon the stage, or extent of spread, of the cancer. Patients with early-stage prostate cancer, or cancer that has not spread from the prostate to distant sites in the body, are often treated with radiation therapy, surgery, watchful waiting and/or hormone therapy.

Although patients with early prostate cancer typically have favorable long-term outcomes, a significant portion of these patients will ultimately experience a spread of their cancer to distant sites in the body. Cancer spread from the site of origin to different sites in the body is called metastases. Patients with metastases from prostate cancer are considered incurable with standard treatments. A goal of research is to identify patients at an increased risk of developing metastases so they can receive more aggressive treatment aimed at preventing metastases.

Researchers from Australia recently conducted a clinical study to evaluate the effectiveness of the maker zinc-alpha2-glycoprotein (AZGP1) in predicting the risk of cancer spread among patients with early prostate cancer. This study included 228 early prostate cancer samples obtained from prostatectomies (surgical removal of the prostate). Levels of AZGP1 and subsequent development of cancer metastasis were evaluated.

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  • Low AZGP1 levels were associated with a nearly five-fold risk of a cancer recurrence.
  • Low AZGP1 levels were associated with an eight-fold increased risk of developing metastases to the bone or death from prostate cancer.

The researchers concluded that if these results can be confirmed in future studies, AZGP1 levels among patients with early prostate cancer who undergo a prostatectomy may provide valuable information regarding a patient’s potential for metastases or death from prostate cancer. Ultimately, these patients may undergo more aggressive or systemic (full-body) therapy to help reduce metastases.

Patients with prostate cancer may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of participating in a clinical trial further evaluating markers that may predict prognoses. Two sources of information regarding ongoing clinical trials include the National Cancer Institute (www.cancer.gov) and www.cancerconsultants.com.

Reference: Henshall S, Horvath L, Quinn D, et al. Zinc-alpha2-glycoprotein Expression as a Predictor of Metastatic Prostate Cancer Following Radical Prostatectomy. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 2006; 98:1420-1424.

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