New breakthrough reveals how prostate cancer may begin

prostate cancer

prostate cancer cells. Photo Credit: NIH Image Gallery

Researchers at the University of East Anglia have made an important discovery about how prostate cancer can develop. A new study published today in Molecular Oncology shows that the prostate as a whole, including normal-appearing cells, is different in men with prostate cancer. It suggests that tissue cells throughout the prostate are primed and ready to develop prostate cancer.

This means that it may be better to treat the entire prostate than just the areas of the prostate that have cancer. The team hopes their work can help scientists better understand the causes of prostate cancer and even prevent it altogether.

Lead researcher Prof Daniel Brewer, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, killing one man every 45 minutes in the UK.

“When men are diagnosed with prostate cancer, clusters of cancer cells can often be found in more than one location within the prostate. We wanted to know if this is due to changes in ‘normal’ prostate cells throughout the prostate.”

Cancer is driven by changes in DNA, life’s genetic code, that occur in every cell. The team examined the DNA code in 121 tissue samples from 37 men with and without prostate cancer.

Prof Brewer said: “The samples we examined included tissue originating from the cancer and tissue from elsewhere in the prostate that appears normal under the microscope.

“This produces a huge amount of data and by applying a great deal of computational power we can identify the differences that have occurred in the DNA, giving us insight into the growth of the cancer. We found that ‘normal’ prostate cells in men who had prostate cancer had more mutations (changes in DNA) than ‘normal’ prostate cells in men without prostate cancer.

“Based on the genetics of the analyzed samples, we created maps to understand where the different mutations occurred. And we’ve shown that for most men, the mutations in normal cells are different than the mutations in cancer cells.

“The ‘normal’ prostate cells in men with prostate cancer appear to provide a favorable environment for the development and growth of prostate cancer cells. In other words, the entire prostate is primed and ready to develop prostate cancer, which is driven by an as yet unknown biological process.

“This work has increased our knowledge of how prostate cancer develops and could one day give us clues on how to prevent or treat it. And it shows that it may be better to treat the entire prostate than just the areas within the prostate that have cancer,” he added.

dr Hayley Luxton, Senior Research Impact Manager at Prostate Cancer UK, said: “This exciting new research shows for the first time how normal cells in the prostate can promote the growth and spread of prostate cancer.

“Researchers found that normal prostate cells in men with prostate cancer display specific genetic changes that make them act like a rich compost and provide the perfect environment for prostate cancer cells to grow and develop. These results give us important new insights into the early development of prostate cancer, which could one day give us clues on how to prevent it.”

More time between prostate cancer screenings could improve outcomes

More information:
The architecture of clonal expansions in morphologically normal tissue from cancerous and noncancerous prostate, Molecular Oncology (2022). DOI: 10.1186/s12943-022-01644-3

Provided by the University of East Anglia

Citation: New Breakthrough Reveals How Prostate Cancer May Begin (2022 September 21) Retrieved September 21, 2022 from

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