Washington: A new study has suggested that it may not be necessary to look for tumors directly in patients with prostate cancer — analyzing non-tumor tissue may be an effective option.
"A biopsy needle does not need to hit a tumor to detect the presence of tumor," said lead researcher Dan Mercola, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of California at Irvine.
"It is reminiscent of the game Battleship; we can detect more cancer cases using 12 shots with a biopsy needle than would otherwise be the case because we have made the ships bigger."
"Changes in the non-tumor tissue surrounding the tumor have long been considered to be important to tumor growth. Interfering with this process could have therapeutic value," he said.
"The information in non-tumor tissue indicating ``presence of tumor`` or not indicates who needs urgent re-biopsy and allows patients to consider alternative therapies to surgery or radiation such as neoadjuvant therapy or prostate cancer prevention treatment."
Mercola and colleagues obtained 364 samples from men of all races who had biopsies for possible prostate cancer, or had prostatectomies to remove cancer, as well as control prostates from donors that had died of causes other than prostate cancer.
They observed changes in the nearby non-tumor tissue and found that changes in gene expression in normal tissue could be detected up to a few millimeters from prostate cancer.
"It is known that at least some prostate cancers cause a reaction in nearby stroma," said Mercola.
"However, we were surprised that a reaction may occur for most tumors, and that this response in non-tumor tissue may extend for many millimeters from the tumor," added Mercola.
The study has been published in Cancer Research.