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Promise and Progress - Chronic Inflammation Connected to Prostate Cancer

Reprogramming Cancer Cells - The Story of Epigenetics
Issue No. 1

Chronic Inflammation Connected to Prostate Cancer

Date: July 16, 2014


Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, & Prevention, April 18, 2014

New evidence points to chronic inflammation of the prostate as a significant contributor to prostate cancer development.  A study by Kimmel Cancer Center scientists Elizabeth Platz, Sc.D., M.P.H., and Angelo De Marzo, M.D., Ph.D., found that men with persistent inflammation of the prostate had twice the risk of having prostate cancer as men with no inflammation.  Chronic inflammation also was associated with a more aggressive form of the cancer, known as high-grade prostate cancer.  Dr. Platz, the Martin D. Abeloff , M.D., Scholar in Cancer Prevention, says the study does not prove that inflammation causes prostate cancer, but reveals a clear association.

Drs. Platz and De Marzo analyzed prostate biopsy samples collected from men participating in the Southwest Oncology Group’s Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial.  They examined benign (cancer-free) tissue samples from 191 men with prostate cancer and 209 men with no history of prostate cancer.  They used indicators, such as the prevalence and extent of inflammatory cells, and found that 86 percent of the men with prostate cancer and 78 percent of men without prostate cancer showed inflammation.  The men who had evidence of inflammation in their prostate tissue samples were found to have 1.78 times higher odds of having prostate cancer and 2.24 times higher odds of having aggressive prostate cancer than men in the group whose tissue samples did not show signs of inflammation.  Inflammation is commonly found in men who undergo a prostate biopsy for elevated PSA levels (a screening marker for prostate cancer) or other symptoms, but Dr. De Marzo says they were surprised to find the high incidence of prostate inflammation in men with no medical indications for biopsy.   He says inflammation is too widespread to be used as a screening or diagnostic tool for prostate cancer, but the finding could lead to new prevention strategies.

The researchers are working to learn more about the causes of prostate inflammation and how it contributes to prostate cancer development as well as ways to prevent and treat it.

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute grants P01 CA108964, U10 CA37429, and P50 CA58236.

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