Summary— The red cell membrane stearic acid to oleic acid ratio was analysed in 34 men with histologically proven carcinoma of the prostate and distant metastases. This ratio was expressed as the saturation index (SI). A mean SI of 0.97 was found in control patients without evidence of any malignancy whereas all patients with advanced prostatic cancer showed a reduced stearic to oleic acid ratio (mean SI 0.466). Untreated patients had a significantly lower SI (mean 0.36) than those who had responded to hormonal therapy (mean 0.547; P < 0.0001). A drop in SI correlated well with more advanced disease as judged by radiological findings and serum PSA.
It is suggested that red cell membrane SI correlates well with radiological and biochemical markers of advanced prostatic carcinoma and may be used as a marker to assess progress and response to treatment.