Epigenetic signature: A new player as predictor of clinically significant prostate cancer (PCa) in patients on active surveillance (AS)

Matteo Ferro, Paola Ungaro, Amelia Cimmino, Giuseppe Lucarelli, Gian Maria Busetto, Francesco Cantiello, Rocco Damiano, Daniela Terracciano

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Widespread prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing notably increased the number of prostate cancer (PCa) diagnoses. However, about 30% of these patients have low-risk tumors that are not lethal and remain asymptomatic during their lifetime. Overtreatment of such patients may reduce quality of life and increase healthcare costs. Active surveillance (AS) has become an accepted alternative to immediate treatment in selected men with low-risk PCa. Despite much progress in recent years toward identifying the best candidates for AS in recent years, the greatest risk remains the possibility of misclassification of the cancer or missing a high-risk cancer. This is particularly worrisome in men with a life expectancy of greater than 10-15 years. The Prostate Cancer Research International Active Surveillance (PRIAS) study showed that, in addition to age and PSA at diagnosis, both PSA density (PSA-D) and the number of positive cores at diagnosis (two compared with one) are the strongest predictors for reclassification biopsy or switching to deferred treatment. However, there is still no consensus upon guidelines for placing patients on AS. Each institution has its own protocol for AS that is based on PRIAS criteria. Many different variables have been proposed as tools to enrol patients in AS: PSA-D, the percentage of freePSA, and the extent of cancer on biopsy (number of positive cores or percentage of core involvement). More recently, the Prostate Health Index (PHI), the 4 Kallikrein (4K) score, and other patient factors, such as age, race, and family history, have been investigated as tools able to predict clinically significant PCa. Recently, some reports suggested that epigenetic mapping differs significantly between cancer patients and healthy subjects. These findings indicated as future prospect the use of epigenetic markers to identify PCa patients with low-grade disease, who are likely candidates for AS. This review explores literature data about the potential of epigenetic markers as predictors of clinically significant disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1146
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2017


  • Active surveillance
  • Epigenetic biomarkers
  • Prostate cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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