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Fat bubbles provide clue to prostate cancer diagnosis

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A means of identifying aggressive prostate cancer from tiny fat bubbles in urine is reported in the British Journal of Cancer.

A team at the VU University Medical Centre in Amsterdam has been studying signs of genetic malfunction contained in the fatty capsules, known as exosomes, which come straight from the tumour.

Although they are found in urine from people who do not have the cancer, they seem to be excreted in large quantities by people who have the disease. Ribonucleic acid molecules in the exosomes show which genes have been turned on or off, and thus indicate whether the particular cancer is dormant or aggressive.

Lead author Dr Jonas Nilsson says: ‘We hope that this innovative approach to studying prostate cancer will reveal new biomarkers for aggressive tumours.’

Doctors have traditionally used levels of proteins such as prostate specific antigen, which are produced by cancer cells, to try to identify aggressive tumours.

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