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Hormone-sensitive prostate cancer: a case of ETS gene fusion heterogeneity


Fusion of the hormone-regulated gene TMPRSS2 with ERG occurs in 50–70% of prostate cancers; fusions of ETV1 with one of several partners occur in approximately 10% of prostate cancers. These two translocations are mutually exclusive. The presence of subclasses of these chromosomal rearrangements may indicate worse prognosis, with the subclass 2+Edel, which has duplication of TMPRSS2:ERG fusion sequences, indicating particularly poor survival. However as this case shows, significant heterogeneity can exist with ERG and ETV1 rearrangements occurring in both prostate intra-epithelial neoplasia and cancer in the same prostatectomy specimen and with adjacent cancer areas containing a single copy, duplication and even triplication of the rearranged locus. As the majority of ETS gene fusions are hormone regulated, they could explain the pathogenesis underlying exquisitely hormone-sensitive prostate cancer. This is exemplified by the case presented here of a patient diagnosed in 1991 who remains asymptomatic and chemotherapy-naïve after having long-lasting tumour responses to multiple lines of systemic hormonal treatments.

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