The news report: Wednesday, April 22

Today’s news reports deal with:

  • A gene modification that may identify risk for prostate cancer
  • Dietary intervention and prostate cancer management
  • “Elastography” as a possible means to assess risk for prostate cancer
  • Pain management in very late stage disease

An extremely “dense” scientific paper by Lou et al., available as on “open access article” has presented data suggesting that a specific genetic modification known as a single nucleotide polymorphism or SNP (this particular SNP is identified as rs10993994) may have a key role in susceptibility to (risk for) prostate cancer. An equally “dense” press release issued by the National Institutes of Health doesn’t make this paper much clearer for anyone who isn’t a trained and up-to-date molecular biologist — but everyone seems to think this paper is important!

Freedland and Aronson have published a review of the recent literature on dietary interventions for prostate cancer, with a special emphasis on dietary fat and carbohydrate intake for modulating prognosis among men already diagnosed with this disease. They conclude that tumor biology can be altered by a vegan low-fat diet or by eliminating simple carbohydrates accompanied by weight loss. However, they acknowledge that larger, longer term studies are needed to determine the clinical relevance of these findings.

Soft tissue tumors like prostate cancer are usually several times “stiffer” than the normal tissue in which they develop (e.g., normal prostate tissue). Elastography is a non-invasive method that assesses the elasticity of tissues as a means to identify risk of a tumor. Salomon et al. have published an introductory overview (in German) on the application of ultrasound-based elastography to the assessment of prostate cancer risk and diagnosis.

Papatheofanis et al. have evaluated the relative merits of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), opioids, and injectable radionucleotides (strontium-89 chloride and samarium-153 lexidronam ) in the palliative management of pain associated with symptomatic, metastatic, hormone-refractory prostate cancer. Their data suggest that the improvement in quality of life achieved through treatment with samarium-153 lexidronam (Quadramet) is comparable  to that achieved with the use of opioids, and that NSAIDs and strontium-89 (Metastron) are less efficacious in this patient population with late stage disease.

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