A study has found what researchers say might be a way to tell which cases of early prostate cancer are likely to become life-threatening and should be treated aggressively — and which ones might not need surgery.

“If we can predict a prognosis with our technology, then men will know if their cancer is dangerous and if they should seek treatment,” says Vadim Backman, a Northwestern University biomedical engineering professor who was senior author of the study reported in the journal PLOS One. “Right now, there is no perfect tool to predict a prognosis for prostate cancer. Our research is preliminary, but it is promising and proves that the concept works.”

Vadim Bachman

Vadim Bachman

The standard method to screen for the disease has been the prostate-specific antigen — or PSA — test, which doesn’t predict which cases will become aggressive.

Using partial wave spectroscopic microscopy — a technique he pioneered — Backman and researchers at NorthShore University Health System and Boston University linked cell abnormalities on a nanoscale to prostate cancers known to be “progressors.” The same cells would appear normal with standard microscopy techniques, they wrote.

The second-leading cause of cancer deaths among American men, prostate cancer affects more than half of all men by 80. Because there hasn’t been a way to predict the path of the disease, many men undergo surgery to remove the prostate, which can have side-effects.


Study: With age comes trust, and that’s good for you

Besides being better than the alternative, getting old appears to have another benefit: It becomes easier to trust people, and that’s good for your well-being, new research suggests.

“A growing body of research shows that some things actually get better as we age,” says Claudia Haase, an assistant professor of human development and social policy at Northwestern University who co-authored a report on the findings in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. “Our new findings show that trust increases as people get older and . . . that people who trust more are also more likely to experience increases in happiness over time.”

Claudia Haase

Claudia Haase

The research combined two large-scale studies at Northwestern and the University at Buffalo. One — involving 197,888 people from 83 countries — found a link between trust and age that’s been the case for at least the past 30 years, suggesting “it’s not simply about people being born at certain times,” says study coauthor Michael Poulin, an associate professor of psychology in Buffalo.

The second study, involving 1,230 Americans, found they grew more trusting with age.

“Levels of trust increase as people get older,” says Haase, who directs Northwestern’s Life-Span Development Lab. “People really seem to be ‘growing to trust’ as they travel through their adult years.”

Also, Poulin notes that, “Both studies found a positive association between trust and well-being that was consistent across the lifespan.”