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Prostate Cancer Markers: The Way Forward


1 October 2007


Results of a new study, presented today at the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Conference, show that a new prostate cancer marker could play a crucial role in helping clinicians decide on the most appropriate course of treatment for men with prostate cancer.

Deciding how best to treat prostate cancer is currently a challenge for clinicians since only the most aggressive form of the disease requires immediate and comprehensive treatment (surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy).  However until now it has not been easy to distinguish clearly between aggressive (‘Tiger’) and non aggressive (‘Pussycat’) tumours. The distinction is of particular importance to patients - as treatment for the more aggressive forms can cause unpleasant side effects.

A team of researchers, led by Professor Colin Cooper at The Institute of Cancer Research and Professor Jack Cuzick at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, have discovered a new marker - 2+Edel - which is present in the more aggressive forms of cancer but not in the non aggressive forms.  By using this marker to distinguish between Tigers and Pussycats, clinicians will be able to identify those patients who require immediate and comprehensive treatment and those that require a ‘watch and wait’ approach.

Professor Cooper and his team at The Institute of Cancer Research, are key members of the Transatlantic Prostate Group, a unique collaboration of prostate cancer experts from the United Kingdom and United States. Their work focuses on the evaluation of new and established prostate cancer markers, in order to validate those most helpful to the treatment decision process, so that they may be used in the clinical setting.

Professor Colin Cooper, The Grand Charity of Freemasons’ Chair of Molecular Biology at The Institute of Cancer Research said: “This is an exciting time for prostate cancer research; collaborations such as this allow us to speed up research into the disease and will hopefully enable us to develop tests which will help prostate cancer diagnosis. We are delighted that the 2+Edel marker is currently being trialled in patients with prostate cancer and we hope that screening for 2+Edel is something that could be incorporated into clinical practice in the next few years, alongside current techniques, to help doctors decide on the most appropriate treatment for men with prostate cancer.”


Professor Jack Cuzick, John Snow Professor of Epidemiology at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine said: “It is essential that we understand the natural history of prostate cancer, and which cancers require treatment, before we embark on a widespread screening programme.”


For further information or to arrange interviews please contact:

Nadia Ramsey
The Institute of Cancer Research
Tel: 020 7153 5359 / 07721 747 900
Email: [email protected]

Notes to editors
*Markers are substances which are found in the body when a person has cancer, they can either be substances produced by the cancer itself or produced by the body in response to the cancer. They are used to help diagnose the disease and can also be used to help tailor treatment.

2+Edel Fusion
Prostate cancers commonly contain fusion of the TMPRSS2 and ERG genes. The study shows that duplication of this change, called 2+Edel, is found in 6.6% of prostate cancers (equivalent to 1,800 UK prostate cancers patients each year). Patients with 2+Edel have only a 25% survival rate after eight years, compared to 90% for patient with no alterations in this region of DNA

The presentation, by Professor Cooper, Professor Cuzick and colleagues entitled ‘Duplication of the fusion of TMPRSS2 to ERG sequences identifies fatal human prostate cancer’ will be presented at the National Cancer Research Institute conference on 1st October 2007.

The Institute of Cancer Research
The Institute of Cancer Research is Europe’s leading cancer research centre with expert scientists working on cutting edge research. It was founded in 1909 to carry out research into the causes of cancer and to develop new strategies for its prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care. Website at:

The Institute works in a unique partnership with The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, forming the largest Comprehensive Cancer Centre in Europe. This relationship enables close daily contact between research scientists and those at the frontline in the fight against cancer - the clinicians, the carers and most importantly, the patients.

Professor Cooper’s position is funded by a £1 million donation over ten years to The Institute from The Freemasons Grand Charity to support vital research into prostate and testicular cancers. The position, known as The Grand Charity of Freemasons’ Chair of Molecular Biology, heads the male cancer research centre at The Institute.  

Professor Colin Cooper co-ordinates the South of England NCRI Prostate Cancer Collaborative. The work of Professor Cooper’s team at the Male Urological Cancer
Research Centre is supported by The Rosetrees Trust.

Professor Jack Cuzick is head of the Centre for Epidemiology, Mathematics and Statistics at Cancer Research UK in London.  He is also John Snow Professor of Epidemiology at Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine at Queen Mary, University of London.

The Funders
The work was funded by Cancer Research UK, National Cancer Research Institute, US National Cancer Institute, Grand Charity of Freemasons, Rosetrees Trust, The Bob Champion Cancer Trust, Orchid - Fighting Male Cancer and David Koch Foundation

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