Research underway to improve prostate cancer diagnosis

Friday, 15 March 2019


Early research findings have indicated that a simple blood test may provide a more accurate way of identifying aggressive prostate cancers, which could result in more immediate treatment for men with high-risk disease and reduce unnecessary procedures for men with benign or low-risk tumours.

Professor Hubert Hondermarck

Professor Hubert Hondermarck, Conjoint Professor Jim Denham and Associate Professor Phil Jobling from the University of Newcastle and the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) have been awarded $318,596 from the Cancer Council to investigate a new approach to testing for the disease.

“Currently there is no single test to detect prostate cancer and the only way to confirm diagnosis is by surgical biopsies, which carry risks of complications and over-treatment with surgery, chemo, radio or hormone therapy,” Professor Hondermarck said.

“Our research team has discovered that neurotrophic growth factors, which normally contribute to the development of the brain and the nervous system, are overproduced in prostate cancer cells and their presence in the blood is increased in patients with aggressive prostate cancer.

“This project aims to prove that neuromolecules are effective biomarkers for aggressive prostate cancer and investigate whether they represent a more accurate way of testing for the disease.”

As the second-most common cancer in men, this project has the potential to advance prostate cancer diagnosis and be easily transferred into clinical practice to inform decision-making regarding treatment.

“This research has the potential to reduce unnecessary biopsies, over-diagnosis and overtreatment, leading to better health outcomes for men,” Professor Hondermarck said.

Conjoint Professor Philip Hansbro also received $448,695 to investigate the role of gut bacteria in lung cancer development and progression.

Almost $9 million dollars was awarded to 13 cancer research projects at the 2019 Cancer Council NSW Research Awards held last night in Sydney.