Weapons Gain Power (January 1998)
A test measuring insulin-like growth factors
may soon be able to predict a man's risk of developing prostate cancer, researchers say.
Meanwhile, federal regulators have approved a laser treatment for enlarged prostate, a
condition requiring frequent urination and common in men more than 50 years of age.
Writing in the journal Science, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health say the
test could soon be used to predict prostate cancer risk. It analyzes the ability of
insulin growth factor-1 (IFG-1) to protect mutated cells from the body's defense system.
The scientists said test results comparing the IFG-1 factors against those men with a
prostate cancer risk -- and those diagnosed with prostate cancer -- were "very
consistent." Test results were compared with prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test
results in determining reliability. PSA level tests are commonly used for prostate cancer
The laser system for treatment of enlarged prostate was approved by the Food and Drug
Administration earlier this week. Manufactured by Indigo Medical Inc., the system uses
fiber optics and diode laser fiber technology to destroy affected areas of the prostate,
company officials say.
An Indigo spokesman says that of 156 patients studied in pre-approval tests, those
receiving the laser treatment spent 52 percent less time in the hospital.
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