An Overview of Current Prostate Cancer Research

What Are the Most Exciting Areas of Study in Prostate Cancer Research?

Breakthroughs in prostate cancer continue to happen frequently and a variety of exciting developments are currently being studied. Around the world, thousands of physicians, scientists, and others are studying this disease.

What are some of the biggest areas of ongoing study and research in prostate cancer and what are some examples from each area?

  • Prevention

    A number of ongoing studies around the world are looking at the effects of a variety of vitamin and mineral supplements on prostate health. Selenium, vitamin E, vitamin D, soy compounds, lycopene, and multivitamin tablets are all being studied for any possible benefit (or harm) that they may offer in terms of prevention.

  • Diagnosis

    Recent advances in medical imaging have brought about better methods for detecting cancer that has spread outside of the prostate.

    “Enhanced MRI", for example, is a fairly new technique that is being studied. It involves a special technique that causes the patient’s lymph nodes to “light up” on the MRI if cancer exists in them. This technique is being studied to determine if it is significantly better than standard MRI.

  • Standard Treatments

    Significant improvement in the way that radiation is administered to prostate cancer patients has happened in recent years and more advances are coming. With the aid of sophisticated computers that help to plan the treatments, radiation oncologists can now much more accurately pinpoint the radiation and minimize surrounding tissue damage. More and more research is being done to make radiation even more precise.

  • Immune Therapy and Vaccines

    Prostate cancer vaccines have been a source of significant excitement for a number of years now. The hope is that, after injecting a small amount of a substance into the body, the body will mount a large immune response to attack both the substance injected as well as prostate cancer cells. This is one of the hottest areas in current prostate cancer research.

    The National Cancer Institute offers more information about cancer vaccines.

  • Drugs to Slow Cancer Growth

    Many drugs are being developed to slow or stop the growth of cancers. Some drugs act to block the cancerous cells from dividing, others inhibit their movement, and others block their ability to make their own blood vessels. All of these drugs may eventually have application to prostate cancer.

    Overall, prostate cancer research is an exciting field with many breakthroughs in research occurring every year from prevention to treatment.

    Sources:

    Cancer Vaccine Fact Sheet. National Cancer Institute. June 8, 2006.http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/cancervaccine

    Harisinghani MG, Barentsz J, Hahn PF, Deserno WM, Tabatabaei S, et al. Noninvasive detection of clinically occult lymph-node metastases in prostate cancer. N Engl J Med 348:2491–2499.

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