The Journal of Urology has recently published a study that describes a new prostate cancer marker that may make prostate cancer easier to identify in an early stage.

The prostate is a gland of the male reproductive system and produces some of the fluid that transports the sperm during male ejaculation. In prostate cancer, cancer cells form in the tissues of the prostate. Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer diagnosed in men after skin cancer. However, overall survival rates for all stages of prostate cancer have improved dramatically over the past 20 years. This new marker, EPCA, is a protein that has been identified as a new cancer marker after extensive protein analysis and comparison to the proteins associated with healthy prostate tissue.

Earlier studies have shown that EPCA accurately identified cancerous tissue in negative core biopsy prostate tissues in patients who subsequently developed prostate cancer. In this recent study, prostate tissue samples were obtained from 50 patients diagnosed with localized prostate cancer, as well as from 10 patients diagnosed with invasive bladder cancer. Each tissue specimen was analyzed for EPCA by staining. A positive stain was found in 94 percent of patients diagnosed with prostate cancer, but was completely negative in the samples of the patients with bladder cancer. EPCA staining intensity was not associated with the stage or grade of prostate cancer. In the non-cancerous tissues near the major prostate cancer focus, EPCA was positive in 86 percent of prostate cancers. However, most EPCA positive glands located near the cancer consisted of inflammatory and low-grade tissue changes of cancer.

Researchers concluded that EPCA appears to reflect the early changes in the prostate tissues associated with prostate cancer. This new biomarker offers promising results that may help detect prostate tissue changes earlier. There is an ongoing multicenter trial being carried out to determine the accuracy of EPCA in predicting prostate cancer in men with negative biopsies and an elevated PSA.

Reference: Uetsuki H, Tsunemori H, Rikiya T, et al. Expression of a Novel Biomarker, EPCA, in Adenocarcinomas and Precancerous Lesions in the Prostate. The Journal of Urology. 2005; 174; 514-518.

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