A genetic driver of pain in prostate cancer … and other cancers too?

According to a newly published paper in the journal Pain, the presence of a particular genetic marker in cancer cells may be a key factor in risk for cancer-related pain.

Lam et al. have reported data suggesting that patients expressing the TMPRSS2 gene in cancer cells appear to be at significantly higher risk for cancer-related pain than cancer patient who do not express this gene. They realized this because of their work on patients with head and neck cancers, but rapidly recognized that their findings correlated with data for prostate cancer patients too. Additional information is available in this news release from the University of Toronto.

Since most cancer-related pain in prostate cancer patients is bone-related, the exact nature of the correlation between expression of the TMPRSS2 gene and risk for pain may take a while to elucidate (assuming that this hypothesis is “real”). However, the initial animal experiments reported by Lam et al. do seem to confirm the possibility of a novel role for a cell membrane-anchored mediator in cancer pain, as well as pain in general.

We shall need to “watch this space” for further findings.

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