New research on genes linked to hereditary prostate cancer helps scientists better understand how prostate cancer grows. Tests to find abnormal prostate cancer genes could also help tell which men are at high risk. They could then be tested more often. Further research could provide answers about the chemical changes that lead to prostate cancer. Then, perhaps, we could design drugs to reverse those changes.
One of the biggest problems now facing doctors and their patients with prostate cancer, is figuring out which cancers are more likely to spread. Knowing this could help decide which men need treatment and which could be better served by watchful waiting.
Researchers continue to look for foods that increase or decrease prostate cancer risk. Scientists have found some substances in tomatoes and soybeans that seem to be preventive, and they are trying to develop related compounds that might be used as dietary supplements.
Some studies suggest that certain vitamins and minerals could lower prostate cancer risk, and larger studies of this issue are still in progress.
In the realm of treatment, a new type of surgery is being studied. In this method, small incisions are made in the belly. Through these, special instruments are used to remove the prostate. It is not yet clear if this approach will be better than the standard method of surgery.
Also, better technology is making it possible to aim radiation more precisely than in the past. This makes it possible to treat only the prostate gland and any cancer just outside the gland. Studies are in progress to find out which techniques are best for which patients.
Researchers are now studying newer forms of treatment for early stage prostate cancer. One new method is a form of ultrasound that destroys cancers cells by heating them with highly focused beams. It is not yet being done in the United States.
New drugs to block the effects of male hormones and prevent prostate cancer growth are being developed. And many studies of new chemotherapy drugs as well as existing drugs used against other cancers are also in progress. Certain hormonal medications are also being studied for reducing prostate cancer risk.
Several types of vaccines that boost the body’s immune response to prostate cancer cells are being tested in clinical trials.
In order for cancers to grow, blood vessels must grow to nourish the cancer cells. New drugs are being studied that may be useful in stopping prostate cancer growth. They work by keeping new blood vessels from forming. Several of these drugs are now being tested in clinical trials.