Hypoxia - an explanation of prostate cancer progression mechanisms
Prostate cancer (PC) is a common malignancy in males in most industrialized countries, where it is the most commonly diagnosed cancer affecting men after middle age (>50 years). Although the screening and surgical procedures for prostate cancer have improved, successful treatment is still a major challenge. In the tumor microenvironment, hypoxia is one of the crucial factors which promote an aggressive phenotype of tumor cells and decrease the effectiveness of standard treatment. It implies that tumor cells surviving hypoxic stress are likely to be a significant source of viable clonogens that can repopulate tumors with more malignant/metastatic cells. Unfortunately, most treatment protocols are less effective against hypoxic cells which are resistant not only to radiotherapy, but also to standard cytotoxic chemotherapy. There is now a considerable amount of clinical evidence that tumors with a higher proportion of hypoxic cells have a poor diagnosis. Tolerance of hypoxic conditions varies in different tumor types. However, prostate cancer cells seem to be highly tolerant of hypoxia. The main problem concerning the effectiveness of prostate tumor therapies are changes in the biology of hypoxic tumor cells after standard hormone- and radiotherapy. Despite the many studies of tumor hypoxia, very little attention has been given to the oxygen concentration in the conditions of in vitro cancer cells studies. To date, there has been no comprehensive characterization of prostate cancer cells under hypoxic condition, which seems to be crucial in the light of the intensive search for novel cancer therapies.
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