Blood Test Accurately Predicts Risk of Prostate Cancer Recurrence

Researchers have identified seven biomarkers that can be found in the bloodstream to accurately predict men’s risk of prostate cancer recurrence, improving current methods by 15%. Lead author Shahrokh Shariat, MD, from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, in Dallas, said in a news release, "Neither preoperative magnetic resonance imaging nor any of the clinical features we have used before even come close to this level of accuracy." The findings are preliminary, and appear in the June 15 issue of Clinical Cancer Research.

The seven biomarkers include:

• transforming growth factor-β1
• interleukin-6
• interleukin-6 soluble receptor
• vascular endothelial growth factor
• vascular cell adhesion molecule-1
• endoglin and urokinase plasminogen activator

The researchers suggest that the biomarkers may be more accurate than PSA, biopsy Gleason sum, and clinical stage of prostate cancer. Dr. Shariat explains, “We have been looking at these biomarkers for the past 10 to 15 years in the laboratory, but now we can translate these findings into progress for the individual patient." Though the screening tool is not ready for use in medical practice, the authors feel the findings may set a new standard for treatment strategies in high risk patients.

Limitations to the study include short study duration, and small sample size. Also, the study was retrospective, limiting the team’s ability to scrutinize for minor, but potentially significant variables, as biomarkers from already existing blood samples were used.

Despite the above limitations, the group says, "We showed an important and statistically significant gain in predictive accuracy. Moreover, the ability to predict the risk of early recurrence may be important for neoadjuvant and adjuvant treatment strategies because disease recurrence within 2 to 3 years of radical prostatectomy is associated with an increased risk of metastasis and cancer-specific mortality." The team’s accuracy rate was 71.6% when standard clinical variables alone were used, but it rose to 86.6% when the biomarkers were added.

Large scale studies, involving multidisciplinary groups are still needed. Further investigation supporting the current study would certainly provide a valuable tool for prostate cancer survival.

Clin Cancer Res. 2008; 14:3785-3791. Abstract


Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in American and European men, and one of the three most common causes of death. Prostate tumors grow slowly, and are often discovered in advanced stages. Autopsies have shown that 25% of men in their 30's have latent prostate malignancy.(1)

Annual screening for prostate cancer is recommended, especially for men over age 40, and those at high risk.

Watch your weight. Studies suggest there is a direct correlation between body mass index (BMI) and the development of prostate cancer, though other studies have yielded conflicting results. Speculation exists that obesity lowers PSA levels, making screening methods more difficult, as well as increasing the difficulty of biopsy. Regardless, obesity carries many risks.

Nutrition is a powerful way to promote prostate health. Men who were followed via questionnaires for twelve years, and consumed at least two servings of tomato sauce per week, showed a 36% lower risk of metastatic prostate cancer, and a 35% lower risk in locally advanced disease. (2) All foods containing lycopene are beneficial.

Researchers aren’t sure how, but animal fat seems to play a role in the development of prostate cancer. Selenium and alpha-tocopherol (from food) seem to reduce prostate cancer risk, while calcium, dairy foods, and other dietary fats are among the factors suspected of increasing risk.

There are a number of nutritional potentials for men that should be used. Healthy dietary practices - consuming a lot of tomatoes, cruciferous vegetables, green tea, pomegranates, and soy protein, can probably prevent prostate cancers.

(1)Sakr WA et al. (1993) The frequency of carcinoma and intraepithelial neoplasia of the prostate in young male patients. J Urol 150: 379-385.
(2)Giovannucci E, Rimm EB, Liu Y, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC. A prospective study of tomato products, lycopene, and prostate cancer risk. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2002;94:391-398. Abstract

Statins and Prostate Cancer Prevention: Where We Are Now, and Future Directions
Nat Clin Pract Urol. 2007; 4(11):605-614. ©2007 Nature Publishing Group
Contemporary Prostate Cancer Prevention (Slides with Transcript)