Approximately 1 in 7 Australian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer by the age of 75-years-old. Thankfully, innovative research is underway to improve outcomes and save the lives of the men in your life.
Leading this research is Dr Luke Selth, from the Dame Roma Mitchell Cancer Research Laboratories and Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men’s Health at the University of Adelaide. Dr Selth is aiming to develop a new test to determine how aggressive a prostate cancer tumour is when a man is first diagnosed, and develop better treatments for those devastated by aggressive forms of this common cancer.
“My team is aiming to develop tools that can more accurately differentiate between men who have slow-growing prostate cancer from men who have aggressive prostate cancer that needs to be treated urgently,” Dr Selth said.
“At the moment we can’t accurately distinguish between these two patient groups, meaning that often men with slow growing tumours that would not affect their quality or length of life are treated in the same way as men with more aggressive cancers.”
Dr Selth and his team are in the process of developing tools, called biomarkers, which could better inform patients and clinicians about how aggressive a cancer tumour is. They are looking at the all-important RNA molecule to help clinicians diagnose prostate cancer differently.
“Research from our group has shown that microRNAs are present in the blood or seminal fluid of prostate cancer patients and can distinguish between aggressive and non-aggressive cancers.
“We hope to eventually develop a test that would detect these microRNAs, and be used to guide treatment decisions.”
Such a test would mean that men with slow growing prostate cancers could avoid intense treatments such as surgery and radiation therapy. While men with aggressive tumours would be treated appropriately.
With this research well underway, Dr Selth’s team is also focused on developing new therapies for prostate cancer that has spread around the body, or mestastised.
“While therapies for localised prostate cancer are often effective, some men experience a recurrence of their tumour and eventually develop metastatic disease,” Dr Selth said.
“These men receive androgen deprivation therapy and whilst this normally works quite well for a period of time, it is never curative and eventually men develop a very aggressive and often lethal form of prostate cancer.
“We are aiming to develop entirely new strategies to target that very aggressive phase of prostate cancer.”
Callaborative funding is key to ensuring researchers can advance their work to new treatments as soon as possible. Dr Selth’s team is also supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council, Movember and National Breast Cancer Foundation of Australia.