Prostate Cancer 'May Be Caused by Virus'

Daily Mail (London), September 8, 2009 | Go to article overview

Prostate Cancer 'May Be Caused by Virus'


Byline: Daniel Martin Health Reporter

SOME forms of prostate cancer may be caused by a virus - raising the possibility of a vaccine to combat it, say scientists.

Researchers examined more than 300 tumours and found the infection, known as XMRV, in almost a third of them.

It could lead to the creation of antiviral drugs to stave off prostate cancer, or screening programmes to discover who is at risk of developing the condition.

Last night experts welcomed the findings, but said it was far too early to say for certain if the virus was the cause of these tumours, as their presence could simply be a coincidence.

Prostate cancer is Britain's most common cancer among men and the second-highest killer after lung cancer. A total of 35,000 men are diagnosed with cancer of the prostate every year.

Some 10,000 of these are found to have the aggressive 'tiger' form, with most dying within 18 months.

The scientists behind the study, from Utah University in the U.S., said the xenotropic murine leukaemia virus (XMRV) was more likely to be present in men who had aggressive cancers - raising the hope of new treatments. It also suggests the virus could be sexually transmitted - just like the human papilloma virus (HPV) which causes 70 per cent of all cervical cancer cases.

A nationwide HPV vaccination programme has just begun, which it is hoped will save the lives of hundreds of women. Professor Ila Singh, who led the study, said he hoped a similar vaccine could be developed for prostate cancer, which claims 12,000 victims a year. …

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