The size and shape of a walnut, the prostate gland is the source of the fluid that carries a man's sperm. It's also a source of great concern to many men: In 2001, physicians in the United States diagnosed nearly 200,000 cases of prostate cancer and more than 30,000 men died of the disease.
By studying families that include several men with prostate cancer, scientists have now identified a tumor-suppressing gene on chromosome 1. It's unclear whether mutations in this eagerly sought gene will ultimately explain many cases of prostate cancer, but investigators are optimistic that their work has revealed a novel facet of tumor-cell biology. Also, they say, the finding could suggest new ways of diagnosing or treating prostate cancer.