Big stride in can­cer bat­tle

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - NEWS - JANELLE MILES

QUEENS­LAND re­searchers may have dis­cov­ered a new way of di­ag­nos­ing prostate can­cer, gaug­ing how ad­vanced it is, and pre­dict­ing how well men will re­spond to treat­ment.

If their find­ings are val­i­dated in large pa­tient tri­als, they be­lieve their work could even­tu­ally lead to more in­di­vid­u­alised treat­ments for prostate can­cer pa­tients and im­proved qual­ity of life.

Sci­en­tist Carolina Soek­madji, of the QIMR Berghofer Med­i­cal Re­search In­sti­tute, said stud­ies had shown that mol­e­cules, known as ex­tra­cel­lu­lar vesi­cles, or EVs, in pa­tients’ blood could po­ten­tially be used by doc­tors to pro­vide an up-to-date pic­ture of treat­ment re­sponse in men with ad­vanced prostate can­cer – those whose dis­ease has spread to other areas of the body.

Such in­for­ma­tion is con­sid­ered vi­tal for a pa­tient’s qual­ity of life, given that one of the most com­monly used treat­ments, an­dro­gen de­pri­va­tion ther­apy, has many un­pleas­ant side ef­fects, in­clud­ing erec­tile dys­func­tion and os­teo­poro­sis.

“By look­ing at these molec­u­lar biomark­ers within the body, doc­tors could po­ten­tially gauge what level of treat­ment a pa­tient needs,” Dr Soek­madji said.

“Clin­i­cians may one day be able to use this in­for­ma­tion to tai­lor ther­a­pies to suit the bi­o­log­i­cal back­ground and makeup of each pa­tient.”

She said the se­cre­tion of a par­tic­u­lar type of EV was found to be higher in pa­tients with prostate can­cer than it was for men who had an en­larged, but non-can­cer­ous, prostate. The same mol­e­cules were found in higher num­bers in pa­tients with ad­vanced prostate can­cer, along­side cir­cu­lat­ing tu­mour cells.

“While fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion is needed, this tells us that the pres­ence of EV mol­e­cules could be im­por­tant not only as a prostate can­cer biomarker for di­ag­no­sis and prog­no­sis, but in or­der to make a more in­formed pre­dic­tion of treat­ment re­sponse,” she said.

In 2014, 3891 Queens­lan­ders were di­ag­nosed with prostate can­cer and 597 men died.

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