Possible new test for detecting men at risk of prostate cancer

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: (Published 31 January 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:327
  1. Abi Berger
  1. BMJ

    Researchers in North America have discovered that measuring plasma concentrations of insulin-like growth factor-1 could help to identify men who are at high risk of developing prostate cancer. The research may also offer a clue to explain why some prostate cancers develop more aggressively than others (Science 1998;279:563-5).

    IGF-1 is a hormone produced in the liver that both stimulates cell growth and inhibits natural cell death (apoptosis) and is critical for normal biological development and growth. High concentrations of IGF-1 encourage a rapid turnover of cells, which in turn increases the risk of a random malignant transformation of these cells into a cancer. Dr June Chan, from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and her colleagues worked on the hypothesis that as IGF-1 acts on the epithelial cells of the prostate gland, men with high circulating concentrations of IGF-1 may be at higher risk of developing prostate cancer than men with lower concentrations.

    To test this theory, the team looked at men who are currently participating in the physicians' health study and identified all those who had developed prostate cancer since entering the study in 1982. They found that for 152 of these men they had enough frozen plasma left to measure …

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