Doctors had thought prostate cancer was the result of lots of random genetic mutations, but a study involving the University of Michigan Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston suggests prostate cancer begins after specific genes fuse, reported USA Today Friday.
"This is amazing," said Michael Heinrich, a professor at the Oregon Health & Science University Cancer Institute, who was not involved in the study. "This is the Rosetta stone of prostate cancer. Cracking the code lets you read the whole library. The implications of this are huge in a lot of different ways."
Study leader Arul Chinnaiyan of the University of Michigan Medical School said his team found merged genes in nearly 80 percent of 29 prostate cancer samples, but only one of the 50 samples of non-cancerous tissue had the genes.
This may allow doctors to begin to divide prostate cancer -- which is now treated as a single disease -- into different types as they have been treating breast cancer for years, according to the study published in Science.
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