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Researchers from Aarhus University Hospital have developed new method to prevent overtreatment up to 90% of all prostate cancer patients.

Researchers from the Department of Molecular Medicine (MOMA), Aarhus University Hospital, and the Department of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University, have developed a new test, which can be used to distinguish between aggressive and benign prostate cancer.

With more than 4,000 new cases every year, prostate cancer is the most frequent cancer in Danish men. There is currently no safe methods to distinguish between aggressive prostate cancer, which requires rapid treatment, and benign types of prostate cancer, which men will be able to live with for the rest of their lives without significant symptoms.


Nine out of ten may avoid surgery

Many men undergo surgery for prostate cancer even though they, in reality, do not need or benefit from the treatment. The most common side effects from surgery are incontinence (difficulty controlling urination) and erectile dysfunction.

“Up to 90 % – or nine out of ten – could perhaps avoid surgery if we had better tests for determining the aggressiveness of the disease,” says Professor Torben Ørntoft.

For many years, the researchers have been collecting tissue from prostate cancer patients for a biobank and have used the long follow-up period to study which men are doing well and poorly, respectively. Subsequently, a new test has been examined to see whether it can distinguish between the two types of prostate cancer.


Convincing results

The new test examines a number of chemical changes in the hereditary material that are especially pronounced in cancer cells. By measuring the level of these chemical changes in certain places in the hereditary material, the researchers are now able to predict the severity of the disease.

“The test has proved highly precise, and the results are so convincing that they are now being presented in the world's leading cancer treatment journal,” says Torben Ørntoft.

Aarhus University has applied for a patent for the new test, which in future will be used to help guide doctors to better determine the aggressiveness of the cancer and whether surgery is needed, or whether you can just monitor the patient for some years. 




The results have been published in the leading international Journal of Clinical Oncology. The project is conducted by Postdoc Christa Haldrup, Associate Professor Karina Dalsgaard Sørensen and Professor Torben F. Ørntoft from the Department of Molecular Medicine (MOMA), Aarhus University Hospital, in collaboration with researchers from the Department of Urology and the Department of Pathology, Aarhus University Hospital, along with collaboration partners in Switzerland, Germany and Finland.


The project is funded by the foundation ‘John og Birthe Meyers Fond’, the Danish Cancer Society, the Danish Council for Strategic Research and the Lundbeck Foundation, which have supported Professor Ørntoft’s research for many years and thus paved the way for this breakthrough.


Reference: Haldrup C, Mundbjerg K, Vestergaard EM, Lamy P, Wild P, Schulz WA, Arsov C, Visakorpi T, Borre M, Høyer S, Ørntoft TF, and Sørensen KD. DNA methylation signatures for prediction of biochemical recurrence after radical prostatectomy of clinically localized prostate cancer. J Clin Oncol 2013 (in press).


 Further information


Professor Torben Ørntoft
Aarhus University, Department of Clinical Medicine and Aarhus University Hospital, Department of Molecular Medicine (MOMA)
Mobile: +45 2819 2680/ private: +45 86156201