TCGA's Study of Prostate Carcinoma
What is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is a disease of the prostate, a walnut-size gland in the male reproductive system. Nearly all prostate cancer is prostate adenocarcinoma. Prostate cancer is graded by Gleason score, which is based on how the cells look under a microscope and ranges from two to ten. A low Gleason score means that the cancer tissue is similar to normal cells and unlikely to spread. A high Gleason score means that the cancer cells are very different from normal cells and are likely to spread.
For patients whose cancer has spread, survival time is usually one to three years. It was estimated that for 2011, 240,890 men would be diagnosed and 33,720 would die from prostate cancer.1 Additional information on prostate cancer.
What have TCGA researchers learned about prostate cancer?
- Prostate cancer is a highly heterogeneous disease, as 26% of tumors examined could not be categorized into a molecular subtype.
- Seven molecular subtypes of prostate cancer describe the reamining 74% of tumors examined:
- Four subtypes are characterized by cancer-driving gene fusions, or new genes formed by two previously separate genes.
- Three subtypes are characterized by cancer-driving genetic mutations.
- Fusion-driven and mutation-driven cancers demonstrated different genomic profiles.
- Some genetic changes represent potential targets for therapy:
- Mutations in SPOP and FOXA1 showed high levels of androgen receptor-mediated gene expression, suggesting that these subtypes may respond to targeting androgen, a male sex hormone that contributes to prostate cancer growth
1American Cancer Society: Cancer Facts and Figures 2011. Atlanta: American Cancer Society, Inc. 2011.
2Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prostate Cancer Rates by Race and Ethnicity. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. U.S. Government Printing Office. www.cdc.gov/cancer/prostate/statistics/race.htm. Accessed January 10, 2010.