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Metabolic profiling may determine aggressiveness, prognosis of prostate cancer

March 29, 2018

"Prostate cancer detection through elevated PSA levels followed by prostate tissue biopsies often cannot differentiate between patients with early-stage, indolent disease and those with aggressive cancers," says Leo L. Cheng, PhD, of the MGH Departments of Radiology and Pathology, co-corresponding author of the report. "The additional metabolic information provided by magnetic resonance spectroscopy can help guide treatment strategy, both to prevent overtreatment of slow-growing tumors -- a critical and widely recognized current issue -- and to identify the aggressive tumors for which additional treatment should be considered."

It has been estimated that more than 70 percent of men who receive a prostate cancer diagnosis after PSA (prostate-specific antigen) screening and biopsy are likely to have less aggressive tumors that will have little impact on their future health, but around 17 percent have aggressive, potentially fatal disease. Traditional histologic analysis of prostate gland biopsies -- which may miss the most informative tissues -- classifies tumors based on their cellular structural appearance and cannot distinguish dangerous tumors from those that can safely be monitored through watchful waiting.

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