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Inflammation Means Higher Risk for Prostate Cancer

Men who have chronic inflammation of prostate tissue appear to have nearly twice the risk of getting prostate cancer than do those with no inflammation, according to a new study from Johns Hopkins.

The link between persistent inflammation and cancer was especially strong for men with aggressive cases of the disease.

“What we’ve shown in this observational study is a clear association between prostate inflammation and prostate cancer, although we can’t prove that inflammation is a cause of prostate cancer,” said Elizabeth A. Platz, Sc.D., M.P.H., a professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and in the School of Medicine.

Another researcher, Angelo M. De Marzo, M.D., Ph.D., said that chronic inflammation of prostate cancer is too widespread to be used as a diagnostic tool for prostate cancer. But the discovery does give researchers new insight into what may cause prostate inflammation and whether that condition is preventable.

“I think there will be strategies going forward for either preventing inflammation or intervening when it occurs,” Platz said.

The findings were reported in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Investigators looked at statistics from two groups of men in the Southwest Oncology Group’s Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial. That trial, designed to learn whether the drug finasteride could prevent prostate cancer, included biopsies for prostate cancer at the end of the study even if there were no suspicious signs of cancer such as high prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels.

The researchers found that 86.2 percent of the prostate cancer patients had at least one tissue sample with signs of inflammation, compared to 78.2 percent of men without cancer. Ultimately, men who didn’t have prostate cancer but had at least one tissue sample showing signs of chronic inflammation had 1.78 times higher odds of having prostate cancer, and 2.24 times higher odds of having an aggressive cancer.

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