Nanocytology and the future prognosis of low-risk prostate cancer


The precise, microscopic architecture of prostate cancer tissue has long been suspected to be a potential indicator of prognostic value — along with the genetic/genomic modifications of the tissue too.

A newly published paper by Roy et al. in the journal PLoS One has offered us some further, initial insights into ways in which the nanocytology of prostate cancer biopsy tissues from men with Gleason 3 + 3 = 6 disease may be classifiable, using a tool known as partial wave spectroscopic microscopy (PWS), into men at risk and not at risk for disease progression over a 3-year period.

At present, readers should understand that these are early research results, and we would discourage patients from rushing out to seek such testing until there has been a lot more work done in this area. Rather, what is important here is that there are a gradually increasing number of tools in develop that should — over the next decade — make it a great deal easier to help men diagnosed with prostate cancer to work with their doctors to understand which cancers really do need early treatment and which can be monitored for at least a period of time (whether that period of time is just 3 years or 20 years).

A media release from Northwestern University and a report on the ScienceDaily web site offer more information about the early development of this new test.

The current research is based on tissues from a relatively small number of men, and larger studies will be needed to confirm the initial findings that the nano-architecture of the prostate cancer tissue was significantly more disordered among men at risk for progression compared to the men who had indolent disease over the 3-year follow-up period.

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