Testing prostate cancer patients for a protein called endoglin in their blood might help doctors better determine whether the cancer has spread beyond the prostate to nearby lymph nodes, according to a study by Texas researchers. Other researchers have previously shown that endoglin could predict the spread of colon and breast cancers.
Investigators studied 425 men who underwent surgery to remove the prostate and pelvic lymph nodes. They found that men with an elevated level of endoglin were more likely to have cancer that had spread to the lymph nodes and other signs of more aggressive cancer.
Using current methods, the researchers could predict with 89% accuracy whether the cancer had spread to the lymph nodes. When they factored endoglin levels into the equation, their predictions were 98% accurate. If other researchers can confirm these findings, doctors might better determine whether a cancer is likely to have spread and spare some men from having their lymph nodes removed.
SOURCE: Svatek RS, Karam JA, Roehrborn, CG, et al. Preoperative Plasma Endoglin Levels Predict Biochemical Progression After Radical Prostatectomy. Clinical Cancer Research 2008;14:3362–66. PMID: 18519764.
Originally published July 1, 2008; Last reviewed April 12, 2011