Posted March 11, 2014
Carlos S. Moreno, Ph.D., Emory University
When a man is diagnosed with prostate cancer, he and his physician must decide on the best course of treatment. Because not all prostate cancer will progress to aggressive disease, and any treatment comes with considerable side-effects, biomarkers that can predict the likelihood of recurrence are badly needed to aid men and their doctors in deciding on the appropriate course of treatment. With funding from an FY09 PCRP Idea Development Award, Dr. Carlos S. Moreno, at Emory University, has identified and validated biomarkers that can help to predict the likelihood of prostate cancer recurrence after surgery. The next step in the process of translating his research to patients is to develop a clinical test that will be easy to use and provide clear results. Ideally, these biomarkers would be used at the time prostate cancer is initially diagnosed through the use of biopsies. Dr. Moreno plans to test biopsies to determine if these biomarkers are predictive of outcome for patients who elect to undergo radiation treatment instead of surgery. If these biomarkers are helpful in this regard, they may help guide patients and doctors in the difficult decision making process of whether to undergo radiation or surgery.
Another area of future research is to ensure that these biomarkers are accurate predictors for African Americans (AA), who suffer from a very large disparity in prostate cancer incidence and outcome. Since many AA patients have more aggressive disease, and yet elect to have less aggressive therapy such as active surveillance, the information obtained from these biomarker tests could help guide patient counseling and therapy decision making. For example, the patient whose biomarker data indicates a poor prognosis for radiation therapy, but a good prognosis for surgery, would clearly have a sound basis for electing to have a prostatectomy. The potential for these biomarkers to identify radio-resistant tumors could someday reduce the cancer-specific mortality for AA men and the disparities in outcome between AA and Caucasian prostate cancer patients over the long term.