Oct. 19 (UPI) -- Scientists say they now may be able to identify men with prostate cancer at risk for it to spread, according to an article published Monday by the journal Nature Cancer.
In their analysis of prostate cancer cells from people and mice, researchers from Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey found that a "collaboration among 16 genes" leads to metastasis, meaning that the cancer has spread to one or more other parts of the body.
The genes, or proteins, they identified can predict if a prostate cancer patient has a high probability of developing metastasis, including bone cancer, the researchers said.
"People diagnosed with prostate cancer should now be screened for the protein markers [we] discovered to help determine their risk of developing metastatic prostate cancer," study co-author Antonina Mitrofanova, an assistant professor at the Rutgers School of Health Professions, said in a statement.
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death among men in the United States.
While the disease has a five-year relative survival rate of nearly 100% when diagnosed early, metastatic prostate cancer has a five-year survival rate of 30%, they said.
Once the disease metastasizes, treatments such as anti-androgens that target male sex hormones, as well as radiation, chemotherapy and others, not always are effective -- and it's impossible to predict which patients are at risk of developing the advanced late stage of the disease.
For this study, Mitrofanova and her colleagues analyzed prostate cancer cells from mice with the disease and compared them to data on cell samples collected from human subjects.
Mice whose cancer cells contained certain "gene signatures" were more likely to see the disease metastasize to the bone, they said.
In human cells, these same gene signatures also appear to predict the time it takes to develop metastatic disease and whether the cancer will respond to treatment, the researchers said.
"Our results show that molecular profiling at the time of diagnosis can help inform more personalized therapy leading to better outcomes for those with this advanced form of disease," Mitrofanova said.