Discovery Spurs Hope for Prostate Cancer Test

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 11, 2009 12:59 PM CST
A scan indicating prostate cancer.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – A molecule present only in men who have the deadly form of prostate cancer may be the key to a simple urine test for the disease, the BBC reports. “It raises the possibility of telling the difference between the type of cancer that does no harm—which we term 'the pussycat'—from the type that does—which we call 'the tiger,’” one expert said. Patients with the "pussycat" form are often treated unnecessarily.

The researchers stressed that a test was at least 5 years out. One molecule, sarcosine, was found in increased levels in patients with metastasizing cancer, and could also be a key to a cure: Blocking it may slow the spread of the disease. A test could be equally beneficial. “We have identified a potential marker for the aggressive tumors,” one researcher said.