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Gene therapy for prostate cancer.Cancer remains a leading cause of morbidity and mortality. Despite advances in understanding, detection, and treatment, it accounts for almost one-fourth of all deaths per year in Western countries. Prostate cancer is currently the most commonly diagnosed noncutaneous cancer in men in Europe and the United States, accounting for 15% of all cancers in men. As life expectancy of individuals increases, it is expected that there will also be an increase in the incidence and mortality of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer may be inoperable at initial presentation, unresponsive to chemotherapy and radiotherapy, or recur following appropriate treatment. At the time of presentation, patients may already have metastases in their tissues. Preventing tumor recurrence requires systemic therapy; however, current modalities are limited by toxicity or lack of efficacy. For patients with such metastatic cancers, the development of alternative therapies is essential. Gene therapy is a realistic prospect for the treatment of prostate and other cancers, and involves the delivery of genetic information to the patient to facilitate the production of therapeutic proteins. Therapeutics can act directly (eg, by inducing tumor cells to produce cytotoxic agents) or indirectly by upregulating the immune system to efficiently target tumor cells or by destroying the tumor's vasculature. However, technological difficulties must be addressed before an efficient and safe gene medicine is achieved (primarily by developing a means of delivering genes to the target cells or tissue safely and efficiently). A wealth of research has been carried out over the past 20 years, involving various strategies for the treatment of prostate cancer at preclinical and clinical trial levels. The therapeutic efficacy observed with many of these approaches in patients indicates that these treatment modalities will serve as an important component of urological malignancy treatment in the clinic, either in isolation or in combination with current approaches.