Dr. Luke Selth and Professor Lisa Butler, University of Adelaide’s Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men’s Health, struggle to find better treatments with accurate tools to efficiently diagnose prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the most frequent non-skin-based cancer, affecting more than 18,000 Australian men and taking 3000 lives each year.
Luke and his team are focusing on two areas of prostate cancer. One of these is Androgen Receptor (AR) that mainly drives prostate cancer growth. The effort to study this area more is due to the fact that only survival benefiting therapies are available which do not actually kill the cancer. The second area is microRNAs which, according to Luke, promote and inhibit metastasis; they have the ability to prevent the process and can be used as markers of aggressive prostate cancer due to their leakage in the blood from the tumors.
Thompson, 76-years old prostate cancer patient, talks about radiation and hormone therapy that caused him serious side effects. He discusses how the problem with prostate cancer is that no such technology has been established that can detect whether the cancer is aggressive or passive, and lack of that knowledge makes the treatment difficult. Thompson’s friend, Priori, has also undergone the same treatment but he faces mild side effects, with weight gain from hormone therapy as the major problem, even though he actively rides his bike.
Professor Butler focuses her research on finding new medical tests that can provide more information about the progress of the cancer when it is first diagnosed. Options for treatments are limited with most patients being treated in the same manner. The goal of these tests is to provide the right treatment at the right time. Butler and her team focus on molecules called “lipids”, instead of microRNAs, which can indicate aggressiveness of prostate cancer as well as lifestyle impact on diet and obesity.
Both researchers admit that a lot of advanced discoveries and therapies are coming forth in the past five years of research. These breakthroughs indicate the progress of understanding how to treat prostate cancer. Multiple treatment options are being developed.
Seth claims to have seen the most aggressive state of this disease being treated with substantial improvements. This motivates Seth to be strongly devoted to the research because, for him, it genuinely impacts “patients and society”.
Such continuous research will surely bring more profound results.