A new technique known as the Checkerboard Tissue Microarray (TMA) Method will markedly help in predicting the behaviour of prostate cancer.
Needle biopsies, blood and urine analysis are the current options available to determine how aggressive the cancer is and whether it is likely to progress. The results of these tests are however not very accurate, resulting in thousands of men undergoing unnecessary surgery for prostate cancer.
The Checkerboard TMA Method looks for multiple markers of various genes associated with prostate cancer including the E2F3 gene. Over expression of the E2F3 gene is a marker of how aggressive the prostate cancer will be.
The technique will be pivotal in developing a test for prostate cancer aggressiveness which may ultimately prevent thousands of men undergoing unnecessary surgery, with its often associated severe side effects including incontinence and impotence.
Prostate cancer is now the most common cancer to affect men in the UK. More than 30,000 men in the UK are diagnosed with the disease and almost 10,000 men die from the disease each year.
The development of this gene-targeted approach towards prostate cancer has been made possible due to our improved understanding of the molecular mechanisms behind the disease. We still have a long way to go before such techniques can be used to improve the lives of millions of people afflicted with the disease.
For routine pathological examination, the needle biopsy samples are embedded in paraffin blocks to facilitate thin sectioning and examination. The new method requires the biopsies to be cut into cubes, which are oriented in an appropriate way to expose a cross-section of the sample.
These reoriented samples are then re-embedded in hot paraffin wax followed by slicing and staining. Samples processed this way retain the antigenicity, which makes it ideal to be tested for tumour progression.
The Institute of Cancer Research was founded in 1909 to carry out research into causes of cancer. The institute aims at developing new strategies for prevention, diagnosis and treatment Of cancer. The institute has proved it yet another time its commitment towards the cause of cancer by developing this novel technique.
It is appropriate to remember that E2F3 gene (marker gene), BRCA2 gene (determine predisposition to prostate cancer and breast cancer) has been identified and sequenced by the members of the institute. In addition, the institute has also developed 'conformal radiotherapy' which allows higher doses of radiation to be targeted directly at tumors.