Can structure of prostate acini predict for aggressiveness of prostate cancer?

A news story on the web site of St. George’s University in London, England, offers some interesting information about research into the very early stages of the development of prostate cancer — a problem about which we still know very little.

According to this news story (also picked up on the ScienceDaily web site) a research team at St. George’s has been looking at the way acini develop in the prostate as a potential signal of the earliest stages of prostate cancer.

An acinus (plural, acini) is the term used to describe any cluster of cells that resembles a many-lobed “berry”, such as a raspberry. Acini are a very normal component of prostate tissue, but we also know that abnormal acini can be associated with the development of prostate cancer.

According to Dr. Ferran Valderrama, the team leader, their research to date suggests that the more malignant that actual prostate cancer cells are, the more the acini they form differ from normal acini in the prostate gland and the more they resemble those observed in prostate cancer.

This hypothesis correlates with the known risk for prostate cancer associated with a diagnosis of patients with atypical small acinar proliferation or ASAP (see here for more information).

Dr. Valderrma and his colleagues are hoping to be able to develop some form of definitive test that could measure the invasiveness of cells from prostate acini when extracted from a patient. They believe it may be possible to use such data as a method to determine the appropriate treatment for that patient, thus reducing the burden derived from unnecessary over-treatment and optimizing the survival for men who clearly have aggressive forms of prostate cancer that need early treatment.

It seems like a possible strategy.

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