Institute for Prostate Cancer Research (IPCR)
Refining prostate-cancer detection and treatment choices
IPCR researchers were among the first to formally evaluate the PSA test’s ability to distinguish between true cancers and benign prostate conditions, concluding that a variation on the PSA test that uses two types of measurements could improve the test’s accuracy for men with borderline-normal PSA levels. This discovery could lead to a significant drop in biopsy-related costs and complications for this group of men.
IPCR has also shown that roughly one-third of older men diagnosed with prostate cancer through the PSA test are over-treated and receive surgeries or other treatments even though the disease is not likely to threaten their health.
IPCR is leading the first multi-institution active surveillance study of men with localized prostate cancer to find biomarkers that could help decide when to take a wait and watch approach to prostate cancer and when to treat the disease more aggressively.
Improving the power of prediction after diagnosis
IPCR researchers have pinpointed molecular features to help predict how prostate cancer cells will behave. These findings could help identify genes to target for new therapies and point to possible blood-based markers of aggressive prostate cancer.
IPCR has analyzed 86 different genes and determined what genes were turned on in low- or high-grade prostate-cancer cells with great accuracy. The study represents the first systematic attempt to distinguish these molecular features to produce a more objective predictor of how an individual’s prostate cancer will behave and therefore better select appropriate therapies.
Imaging the spread of tumors
Scientists may be able to spot minute tumors using imaging coupled with injected tracermolecules that target cancer cells and light them up. Such imaging could be used to spot the earliest signs that a cancer has spread from the site of the original tumor to distant parts of the body.
So far, IPCR researchers have used this approach in mice in order to understand how aggressive prostate tumors spread to bones and other tissues. This will help researchers learn which types of cells contribute to the development of aggressive disease. The goal is to detect aggressive prostate cancer earlier and treat it more effectively.
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