Molecular pathology of prostate cancer

Cancer Biomark. 2010;9(1-6):441-59. doi: 10.3233/CBM-2011-0181.


This chapter includes discussion of the molecular pathology of tissue, blood, urine, and expressed prostatic secretions. Because we are unable to reliably image the disease in vivo, a 12 core method that oversamples the peripheral zone is widely used. This generates large numbers of cores that need to be carefully processed and sampled. In spite of the large number of tissue cores, the amount of tumor available for study is often quite limited. This is a particular challenge for research, as new biomarker assays will need to preserve tissue architecture intact for histopathology. Methods of processing and reporting pathology are discussed. With the exception of ductal variants, recognized subtypes of prostate cancer are largely confined to research applications, and most prostate cancers are acinar. Biomarker discovery in urine and expressed prostatic secretions would be useful since these are readily obtained and are proximate fluids. The well-known challenges of biomarker discovery in blood and urine are referenced and discussed. Mediators of carcinogenesis can serve as biomarkers as exemplified by mutations in PTEN and TMPRSS2:ERG fusion. The use of proteomics in biomarker discovery with an emphasis on imaging mass spectroscopy of tissues is discussed. Small RNAs are of great interest, however, their usefulness as biomarkers in clinical decision making remains the subject of ongoing research. The chapter concludes with an overview of blood biomarkers such as circulating nucleic acids and tumor cells and bound/free isoforms of prostate specific antigen (PSA).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / metabolism
  • Early Detection of Cancer
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Proteomics


  • Biomarkers, Tumor