Researchers reveal complex biology, gender differences in kidney cancer

kidney cancer

Androgens in kidney cancer

A new study describes the role of androgens in kidney cancer, and suggests a new approach to treatment, targeting the androgen receptor (AR). The research led by senior author Chawnshang Chang from University of Rochester Medical Center.

Chang’s laboratory produced a large body of work during the past decade investigating the link between cancer and the AR. The link which binds male hormones, transcribes DNA, and is critical for male sex characteristics.

In renal cell carcinoma androgen, signaling can stimulate or suppress tumor cells movement and invasion to different locations in the body. Earlier research, Chang’s lab sheds light on the duality of AR’s role in different cancers.

“In kidney cancer, many studies have provided conflicting information,” Chang said. In some cases, AR expression associated with less malignancy. We show AR-positive kidney tumors more likely to spread the lungs and AR- negative kidney tumors spread to the lymph nodes.

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epidemiological survey

Chang’s lab began its investigation with an epidemiological survey of nearly 4,000 cases of kidney cancer in China. They found, in males almost three times as likely to get kidney cancer than females. Among those whose cancer spread to the lungs within 12 months, the male-to-female ratio jumped to nearly five to one.

In contrast, the gender differences much less significant among the patients whose cancer spread to lymph nodes versus of the pulmonary system. Probably the cancer cells contained fewer androgen receptors.

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Researchers also studying human cells and tissue to understand the mechanisms by which signaling among AR proteins interacted with other known cancer-associated genes to enhance or reduce metastasis.

However, kidney cancer treated with surgery and radiation in less advanced cases targeted drugs that block the cancer cells. However, once it spreads it difficult to treat. The cancer resists chemotherapy and radiation, and targeted medications only extend survivorship an average of six to 15 months.

Chang believes his research may help scientists to develop newer approaches to treatment that could combine anti-androgens when appropriate with other targeted drugs to suppress the disease long-term.

More information: [University of Rochester Medical Center]