Prostate Cancer Research

The field of prostate cancer research has produced many exciting advances, including new treatment options, as well as a better understanding of the condition. Prostate cancer research includes new drugs in development, the benefits of different treatment options over one another, and learning more about the mechanisms of the cancer itself to better predict who’s at risk and how the condition progresses. Information like this is invaluable when making a plan to combat prostate cancer, as well when determining screening and care guidelines for the condition as a whole. Research can come in many forms, from clinical trials to analyzing tissue samples in a lab.

Who is performing prostate cancer research?

Prostate cancer research is performed by a variety of different individuals, including medical doctors, physician scientists, doctoral students, and other highly trained personnel. This research can be funded by many sources, including private donors, large pharmaceutical companies, and the government, among others.

A great example of a large prostate cancer research contributor comes from a government-associated program, the Department of Defense’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP). Within the CDMRP, is the Prostate Cancer Research Program (PCRP), which helps to find high risk, high gain, and high impact projects to address the needs of men with prostate cancer.1 These needs including learning more about the condition, finding new treatment options, discovering new screening or detection methods, and better understanding how to distinguish between very aggressive and non-aggressive cancer early on.

There are many other aspects of research that this organization supports with the $1.53 billion they have received between 1997 and 2016. They also host a regular conference called the IMPaCT meeting (Innovative Minds in Prostate Cancer Today), where scientists in the field can meet and discuss what they’re working on. Aside from just this organization, there are many others that are providing their support to prostate cancer research, including the Prostate Cancer Clinical Trials Consortium (which is a joint effort by the PCRP and the Prostate Cancer Foundation).2 The consortium connects investigators, industry partners, research sites, and individuals with a specific condition to promote and fill clinical trials.

What kind of research is happening?

Current research surrounds learning more about prostate cancer in general, as well as assessing the quality of life (QoL) impacts from treatment. Additionally, research is focused on developing and producing new treatment options for prostate cancer, as well as identifying new prostate cancer biomarkers. Biomarkers include any entity in the body that indicates a cancerous process is occurring, such as mutated genes, cancer-related proteins, and more.

By identifying and learning more about these biomarkers, treatment options can be better targeted at prostate cancer-specific processes in the body, as well as better assess an individual’s risk of developing prostate cancer. Biomarkers also have the potential to predict how aggressive a cancer might be, as well as it’s probability of metastasis or recurrence later on. Biomarkers can also be paired with common screening techniques to help identify potential prostate cancer early on for earlier detection.

Currently, more than 90 Phase III and over 400 Phase I and II trials related to prostate cancer are underway in Europe and North America.6 Most recently, clinical trials like these have led to the creation of five new drugs for men with prostate cancer since 2010, including:

  • Jevtana (cabazitaxel)
  • Provenge (sipuleucel-T)
  • Xgeva (denusomab)
  • Xofigo (radium 223 dichloride)
  • Xtandi (enzalutamide)
  • Zytiga (abiraterone)3-5

How do I learn more or get involved?

Organizations like the Prostate Cancer Clinical Trials Consortium and ClinicalTrials.gov share information on current trials that are ongoing, as well as publicize trials looking for participants. You can also talk with your doctor about any trials they are aware of that you may qualify for. Also, chances are your provider knows about the field of prostate cancer research as well, and even if there aren’t any trials for you in your area, they may still be able to fill you in on anything new and exciting that they’ve recently encountered or heard about.

As always, if you do participate in a clinical trial, it is important to discuss all potential risks and benefits with your doctor, as well as with the study’s investigative team. While clinical trials do provide the chance to receive new and exciting treatment options, these treatments are still being assessed for their overall impacts on those who take them. This could mean that there is the chance of experiencing adverse side effects or that you spend a fair amount of time taking treatments that may not be better than the current standard of care. Choosing to be a part of a clinical trial is a big decision, and one that should be researched well beforehand.

Written by: Casey Hribar | Last reviewed: October 2017
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