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Much of the research done on prostate cancer involves probing basic causes of the disease and testing drugs to control or reduce risk. Some research studies are exploring numerous links between genes and the development of prostate cancer. Other research studies are testing the effects of a low-fat, high-soy diet among men who have an increased risk of the disease.

Research on Prostate Cancer: An Introduction

Doctors and scientists are hard at work conducting prostate cancer research. Research studies are designed to answer important questions and to find out whether new approaches are safe and effective. This research already has led to many advances, and scientists continue to search for more effective methods for dealing with prostate cancer.

Current Areas of Prostate Cancer Research

Prostate cancer research is advancing on dozens of fronts. Scientists are:
  • Probing the basic causes of disease
  • Developing markers to distinguish slow-growing cancers from aggressive cancers
  • Testing drugs to control or reduce risk for prostate cancer.
Most of the results are preliminary at present.

Gene Research

Scientists involved with research on prostate cancer are exploring numerous links between genes and the development of prostate cancer. So far, they have identified:
  • Several genes that may affect a prostate cancer's ability to spread (metastasize)
  • A gene change spurred by hormonal therapy
  • A gene flaw that interferes with the body's defenses against environmental carcinogens.
The presence of multiple identical genetic segments (DNA repeats), which appear to intensify signals that order the cell to multiply, may provide a better way to predict a cancer's aggressiveness.

Research on Controlling the Cancer

Researchers are investigating the possibility that drugs might keep latent prostate cancers from developing into active cancers. In a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial (PCPT), 18,000 healthy men age 55 and older are taking either finasteride (currently used to shrink the prostate in benign prostatic hyperplasia) or a placebo every day for 7 to 10 years.
Smaller research trials are testing DFMO, a drug that inactivates an enzyme that cells need in order to multiply, and 4-HPR, a vitamin A analog that may block hormone-responsive tumors.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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