A little over a year ago I lost a long-time friend and mentor to prostate cancer. He was a relatively young, healthy 60 years old. He was diagnosed in August of last year. He died in January. By the time he died the cancer had spread to his lungs and his brain. His loss will be felt for a long, long time.
The statistics on prostate cancer are discouraging – it’s the most common malignancy among American men. The treatments are barbaric, and our ability to diagnose early or with any specificity is poor, at best. But there is good news on the horizon.
As reported at MedicineNet, a new protein, called prostate cancer antigen-2 (EPCA-2), looks like it’s going to provide a far more accurate marker for cancer cells than the common PSA test:
“We’ve been able to show that blood levels of it are low in normal individuals and high in prostate cancer, and that it distinguishes between cancers that are confined to the prostate and those that have spread outside the gland,” explained study lead researcher Dr. Robert H. Getzenberg, professor of urology and director of research at Johns Hopkins University’s James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute, in Baltimore.His team published its findings in the May issue of Urology.
Spotting especially life-threatening prostate tumors is “the holy grail” of diagnosis, he said. Current PSA testing cannot distinguish between cancers that will grow so slowly that they pose no danger to life and those that require quick action. The hope is that the ECPA-2 test will identify men whose slow-growing cancers make them candidates for “watchful waiting” rather than immediate surgery or other treatment.
Speaking of curing cancer, if you want to donate to one of the world’s most efficient charities (by efficient I mean in excess of $.90 of every dollar goes directly to research) Seth has his Pan-Mass Challenge page up. All proceeds go to the Jimmy Fund at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.