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Feb 13, 2009

Scientists Find Biomarker for Fatal Prostate Cancer

  • Researchers from Wake Forest University School of Medicine and the University of Wisconsin confirmed their earlier findings that men who have too much calcium in their bloodstreams subsequently have an increased risk of fatal prostate cancer. Additionally, they report that high levels of ionized serum calcium is an even more accurate biomarker.

    The investigators examined fatal prostate cancer risk in relation to prediagnostic levels of ionized serum calcium. They found that men in the highest third of ionized serum calcium levels are three times more likely to die of prostate cancer than those with the least amount of ionized serum calcium.

    Researchers also confirmed a previous finding of a doubling of risk for fatal prostate cancer among men whose level of total serum calcium falls in the highest third of the total serum calcium distribution.

    Gary G. Schwartz, Ph.D., senior author of the study and an associate professor of cancer biology at the School of Medicine, a part of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, points out that much of the ongoing research into the development of prostate cancer is focused on identifying characteristics of aggressive tumors. His research, on the other hand, is focused on identifying characteristics of men who will develop the tumors before they actually develop.

    He cautions that calcium in serum is little influenced by calcium in the diet. Serum calcium levels are controlled genetically and are stable over much of an individual's life, Dr. Schwartz explains.

    The results appear in the February issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

     

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