Two news items are worthy of note with regard prostate cancer research, each with promise. One says it is more often not the cause of the death of a man who has prostate cancer, the other gives hope for improved detection methods.
First, one new study reveals men with prostate cancer are more likely to die from other diseases, preventable ones like heart disease. The study is from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and the authors say results suggest that if men diagnosed with prostate cancer use it as a springboard to a healthier lifestyle, they'll lengthen their life.
The study, published in the Advance Access online Journal of the National Cancer Institute, found that in the United States during the trial period 1973 to 2008 for which they looked at the cause of death of 490,000 men who had prostate cancer, only 16% of those men actually died from it. Others died from preventable diseases. Similar results were found in data examined from Sweden.
"Our study shows that lifestyle changes such as losing weight, increasing physical activity, and quitting smoking, may indeed have a greater impact on patients' survival than the treatment they receive for their prostate cancer," Hans-Olov Adami, professor of epidemiology at HSPH, and a member of the research team, said.
New test for prostate cancer may supplant PSA
There is also promise of a simpler, more accurate and cheaper detection test, this news coming from the St. James Leader-Journal in St. James, Missouri. The paper writes about an undergraduate student, Casey Burton, who's a chemistry major at Missouri University of Science and Technology. Burton is working on a method of prostate cancer detection that he believes will supplant PSA testing, the current method of testing for prostate cancer.
It involves the detection of metabolites in urine samples and only requires diagnostic equipment that most health clinics would already have. His testing relies on a simple chemical reaction and he points out that the PSA requires a more complex procedure and more high-tech instrumentation. “Instead of using fancy machinery, I can use an enzyme to make the chemical fluoresce,” the Journal-Leader quotes Burton. “So we can effectively analyze our urine samples, and determine whether or not they contain metabolites.”
There's no time frame on when this method will be fully tested and ready for usage in medical clinics and hospitals, but research using Burton's methods remain ongoing at the Missouri University of Science and Technology.
Currently, one in six men will contract prostate cancer during their lifetime.