A simple blood test could be used by doctors to predict the chances that a prostate cancer sufferer will relapse after treatment.
Scientists have uncovered genetic abnormalities that were associated with recurrence rates. They also discovered that the so-called copy number variations (CNV) would dictate whether a cancer was likely to be aggressive or slow-growing.
Chief investigator Dr Jian-Hua Luo, from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in the US, said the finding could inform treatment decisions.
"For a patient diagnosed with prostate cancer, CNV analysis done on blood or normal tissues would eliminate the need for additional invasive procedures to decide a treatment mode," Dr Luo said.
In fact, blood testing for the abnormalities successfully predicted relapses in 81 per cent of cases - including 69 per cent of fast-growing cases.
Recently scientists at the University of Chicago Medicine demonstrated that a compound found in beehives - caffeic acid phenethyl ester - can slow the growth of prostate cancer tumours.