Decorin v. Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA)

What does the report from Edinburgh scientists stating that they have discovered a single new gene involved in prostate cancer, called Decorin, mean? The immediate implications of there being another way to differentiate between normal prostate tissue and tumour include:

  1. Identification of cancerous tumour is usually the first step to exploring targeted treatments.
  2. The potential of an improved diagnostic test for prostate cancer. This is fundamental because the implications of a bad diagnosis (either way) are severe.

Due to other conditions such as Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), prostate cancer remains one of the most difficult diseases to diagnose, and the lab tests remain inaccurate. The test that is most associated with the prostate is Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA), which although specific for the prostate is not specific for prostate cancer; relative levels are required and these need to be placed in the context of other factors before a tentative diagnosis can be given. To illustrate the difficulty, a good ride on a bicycle is sufficient to raise PSA levels in most men.

The latest reports state that Decorin is involved in suppressing cancer and therefore levels are higher in normal tissue. Following the usual scientific approach, if these early findings are consistent, this is good news for men because a decent test might at last be in sight. However, there is still a long way to go before a reliable and simple test can be made widely available.

blood pressure Full medical glossary
An abbreviation for benign prostatic hyperplasia, which is enlargement of the prostate that may cause difficulty in passing urine. Full medical glossary
Abnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. Full medical glossary
Malignant, a tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. Full medical glossary
The process of determining which condition a patient may have. Full medical glossary
The specialisation of cells or tissues for a specific function. Full medical glossary
The building blocks of the genes in almost all living organisms - spelt out in full as deoxyribonucleic acid. Full medical glossary
The basic unit of genetic material carried on chromosomes. Full medical glossary
A gland that surrounds the urethra near the bladder. It produces a fluid that forms part of the semen. Full medical glossary
An abbreviation for prostate-specific antigen, an enzyme that is produced by the prostate. High levels are present in the blood when the prostate gland is enlarged or inflamed. Full medical glossary
septic arthritis Full medical glossary
One of a class of drugs that inhibit cholesterol formation in the liver. Full medical glossary
A tube placed inside a tubular structure in the body, to keep it patent, that is, open. Full medical glossary
A group of cells with a similar structure and a specialised function. Full medical glossary
An abnormal swelling. Full medical glossary