Friday, April 24, 2009

Researchers found that the 206 exposed to Agent Orange had nearly a 50 percent increased risk of their cancer recurring

A recent study found that veterans exposed to Agent Orange are at increased risk of aggressive recurrence of prostate cancer.
Abstract of Study at:

The study, published in the May issue of British Journal of Urology International, followed 1,495 veterans who underwent radical prostatectomy to remove their cancerous prostates. Researchers found that the 206 exposed to Agent Orange had nearly a 50 percent increased risk of their cancer recurring, despite the fact that their cancer seemed relatively nonaggressive at the time of surgery. Further, their cancer came back with a vengeance: the time it took the prostate specific antigen, or PSA, level to double – an indicator of aggressiveness – was eight months versus more than 18 months in non-exposed veterans.

The PSA of prostate cancer patients is typically measured every three months for two years after surgery then every six months for life. After surgery to remove the diseased prostate, the PSA should be zero, but any prostate cancer cells left behind continue to make PSA, a red flag of recurrence. The PSA often "percolates along," so physicians tend to watch it for a while to determine if additional therapy is needed. However in patients with Agent Orange exposure, radiation or hormone therapy to kill remaining cells may need to be done sooner rather than later.

Increasing evidence is emerging that exposure to Agent Orange, a herbicide and defoliant used during the Vietnam War, increases risk for a variety of health problems, including prostate cancer, although the exact mechanism is unclear. Dioxin, a known carcinogen, also is found in herbicides and pesticides used by U.S. farmers and forestry and chemical plant workers. Studies have shown them to have an increased cancer risk. Scientists suspect dioxin activates regulatory regions of genes to enable the uncontrolled cell division that is a cancer hallmark.

A separate study of 1,653 veterans at VA medical centers in five cities between 1990 and 2006 also showed recurrence rates were higher and recurring cancers were more aggressive with Agent Orange exposure.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and trails lung cancer as the second leading cause of cancer death.

The study was funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, the Georgia Cancer Coalition, the Department of Defense Prostate Cancer Research Program and the American Urological Association/Astellas Rising Star in Urology Award.

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