3 New Developments to Watch in Prostate Cancer Research

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May 11, 2018
New Developments

Prostate cancer research has been an ongoing process of looking into causes, prevention, detection, and treatment of prostate cancer. But with hundreds upon hundreds of published studies out there, how can patients keep up with what’s new? Here are 3 new developments to watch in prostate cancer treatment: 

1. Genetic & Genomic Testing Related to Prostate Cancer

Genes can play a role in both the development and behavior of prostate cancer. Two types of tests that can be helpful in acquiring information are genetic testing and genomic testing. While they sound similar, they collect different information.

  • Genetic testing is used more frequently to define high-risk populations who have yet to get cancer. People who have a known family history of cancer may want to investigate further with genetic testing to see if they carry a gene mutation that puts them at risk. New research on gene changes linked to prostate cancer is helping scientists better understand how prostate cancer develops.
  • Genomic testing, on the other hand, is done for patients who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer in hopes of determining how the cancer might behave. This information can be beneficial in deciding the course of care for your cancer. Some of the genomic tests available now include Decipher, Oncotype DX, ProstaVysion, and the Prolaris Test.

Depending on a patient’s circumstance, a doctor may recommend either test if it could be beneficial to the detection of an inherited risk for or the treatment of prostate cancer.

2. Immunotherapy

The goal of immunotherapy is to boost the body’s immune system to help fight off or destroy cancer cells. Prostate cancer has seen much promise and potential in changing the way this disease is treated and cured in the field of immunotherapy.

Prostate cancer immunotherapy studies are being conducted in the following seven categories:

  1. Therapeutic vaccines: intended to treat or cure a disease by stimulating the immune system
  2. Oncolytic virus therapies: intended to kill cancer cells and stimulate an immune response against tumors
  3. Checkpoint inhibitors: drugs that block normal proteins on cancer cells, or the proteins on the T-cells that respond to them
  4. Adoptive cell therapies: the collection of T-cells from the blood, which are then modified, and injected back into the patient so they can better recognize cancer cells in the body
  5. Adjuvant immunotherapies: substances used to boost the immune system so the patient’s response to therapeutic vaccines can be improved
  6. Cytokines: the injection of laboratory-produced cytokines (proteins that boost the immune system) to increase the number of ones the body would normally produce
  7. Monoclonal antibodies: antibodies designed in a lab that specifically target a certain antigen, such as one found on cancer cells

According to the American Cancer Society, one promising approach for the future might be to combine a checkpoint inhibitor with a prostate cancer vaccine. This combination could strengthen the immune response and help a cancer vaccine work better.

3. Earlier Detection

Researchers are trying to develop a better prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, which could lead to earlier prostate cancer detection (PSA is a protein that is produced exclusively by prostate cells. An overabundance of this protein may indicate that cancer is present).

Additionally, cancer researchers are developing a urine test to find a gene called prostate cancer gene 3 (PCA3), which could also help detect prostate cancer more quickly.  When a man has prostate cancer, PCA3 is made in larger amounts when a man has prostate cancer. More accurate testing could help prostate cancer doctors decide if a man needs a prostate biopsy. With a better testing method, more healthy men could be screened for prostate cancer, resulting in prostate cancers being found and treated early.

New technologies for imaging tumors are also in development. More precise pictures could help prostate cancer specialists find tumors more effectively, which could lead to improved outcomes.

Most new research is developed through prostate cancer clinical trials. Prostate cancer research trials are designed to test new ways to prevent, find, diagnose, treat, and manage the disease more effectively.

Arizona Oncology has recently participated in a variety of prostate cancer clinical trials and has another exciting one on the horizon. Don’t hesitate to speak with your prostate cancer specialist today about the possibility of joining a prostate cancer clinical trial.