The Smiling for Smiddy team recently caught up with Associate Professor John Hooper to find out what has been happening in prostate cancer research at Mater.
As John explained, the risk of a man developing prostate cancer before the age of 85 is one in five1.
“If diagnosed early most men will have a positive outcome following treatment, but if the disease is in an advanced state, or for some reason they have a reoccurrence, the outlook is usually grim,” John said.
“Sadly only about one third of men2 with advanced prostate cancer are sufficiently healthy to be offered any benefit from chemotherapy.”
Improving the outcomes for these men is what John and the rest of the Mater Research team are focussed on.
“When prostate cancer spreads to the bone it becomes incurable. Your bone marrow is where your blood cells are produced and for some reason prostate cancer cells love that environment.
“The prostate cancer cells take over the marrow and start to produce new bone. Prostate cancer is the only type of cancer where this happens and it is extremely painful.”
Mater scientists have discovered a cell receptor which appears to reduce the growth of tumours in the bone—although early days, it’s a promising area of further research.
John and his team have also been collaborating with a prostate cancer research group in Malaysia, furthering the global effort in the fight against prostate cancer. It is advances like these that your support helps to fund.
“The visionary support of Smiling for Smiddy is absolutely essential for our prostate cancer research efforts. In particular they allow us to take a multidisciplinary approach to tackling what can be a debilitating disease. They also permit us to take on the challenging new research directions that have greatest potential but often don’t get funded by mainstream funding bodies," John said.
“We find that the efforts of those who take on the Smiling for Smiddy challenges inspire us to increase our research efforts.”
1 Statistic from 2009, www.canceraustralia.gov.au
2Kirby M, Hirst C, Crawford ED. Characterising the castration-resistant prostate cancer population: a systematic review. Int J Clin Pract. 2011; 65:1180-92.