Purpose: To perform an initial retrospective investigation of the relationship between outcome in patients with organ confined prostate adenocarcinoma and the tumor cells' content of telomere DNA.
Materials and methods: The case-controlled study group was composed of eighteen men diagnosed with prostatic adenocarcinoma prior to 1993. The group was selected so that approximately one half died within ten years of diagnosis and one half survived ten years or longer. Archival, paraffin-embedded tumor tissue was recovered for each patient. DNA was extracted from newly cut sections, fixed to nylon membranes and hybridized with P32-labeled centromere- and telomere-specific probes. Telomere DNA contents were quantitated from the hybridized radioactivities. The relationships between telomere DNA content and survival, and telomere DNA content and disease recurrence in men receiving prostatectomies were determined.
Results: Death and disease recurrence were associated with reduced telomere DNA content (p <0.0001, p <0.0001, respectively).
Conclusions: Telomere DNA content may differentiate high-risk patients with metastatic prostate cancer from men with indolent disease who can be spared the unnecessary side effects and expense of treatment by management with "watchful waiting."