Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, and in 2010, it was responsible for over 28,000 deaths in the US. Now, a new study presented at the European Association of Urology congress in Sweden suggests men with blood type O have a significantly lower chance of the cancer recurring.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prostate cancer is the second most common cause of death from cancer among white, African American, American Indian/Alaska Native and Hispanic men.

Though many men with prostate cancer die of other causes without signs or symptoms of the disease, there are certain symptoms that the CDC advise should be looked into if present. Some of these include:

  • Difficulty urinating, or a weak flow of urine
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Pain in the back, hips or pelvis
  • Painful ejaculation.

For the latest research, Dr. Yoshio Ohno, of Tokyo Medical University, and colleagues studied 555 patients with localized prostate cancer who underwent radical prostatectomy (RP) between 2004 and 2010.

RP, which is surgery to remove the prostate gland, is essentially the “gold standard” treatment for localized prostate cancer, the researchers say. But around 30% of patients show a rising level of prostate specific antigen (PSA) after surgery, which means they experience biochemical recurrence.

The team notes that, in the past, variations in ABO blood groups have been associated with different risks for developing cancers such as gastric and pancreatic cancer.

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The study showed that men with blood type O were 35% less likely to experience prostate cancer recurrence than men with blood type A.

Recently, it has been shown that prostate cancer incidence varies with blood group, but the relationship between blood group and recurrence of prostate cancer after surgery was not previously shown.

After following the patients for an average of 52 months, Dr. Ohno and his team found that patients with blood group O were 35% less likely to have prostate cancer recurrence, compared with patients with blood group A.

“This is the first time anyone has shown that prostate cancer recurrence can vary with blood group,” Dr. Ohno says.

He adds that bigger studies are needed to confirm their findings and also to see what applications they might have.

“For example, we know that there are wide racial and geographical variations in the distribution of the ABO blood groups, and we need to be sure that this effect is significant in other groups,” he says.

They are unsure of why the risks of prostate cancer recurrence vary with blood group, but Dr. Ohno explains their work could lead them to approaches to treatment:

We need to consider what these results mean in practical, clinical terms. For example, should we be counselling people with certain blood groups that they have a greater or lesser chance of recurrence, and should these risk factors be built into decisions on treatment?”

Commenting on the findings, Prof. Per-Anders Abrahamsson (Malmo), European Association of Urology general secretary, says that because there is “great geographical variation” in prostate cancer incidence, there are clearly genetic factors involved.

“Blood groups have already been shown to be associated with prostate cancer incidence, now it looks like they might be associated with treatment outcomes as well,” he adds.

Medical News Today recently reported on a new test that could accurately predict prostate cancer recurrence with the use of a genetic signature.