As a medical oncologist, I’ve seen hundreds of patients with prostate cancer. As a researcher, my aim is to resolve the unanswered questions that we have in the clinic so that we can improve our decision making and help our prostate cancer patients live better and longer.
Over the past decade we’ve seen the introduction of several new drugs for prostate cancer, which have certainly helped patients live better and longer. However, these drugs don’t work for all patients. Most of them are effective on only half to two-thirds of cases and we don’t have any way of knowing which patients will respond to them ahead of time.
For this reason, my research is focused on the search for “markers”, preferably in the blood as that involves a very simple test, that will show me which patients I can give the drugs to and how I should sequence the treatment to best provide personalised cancer therapy.
The exciting news is that we have new technology which allows us to measure which of the DNA in the blood has come from the prostate cancer cells. This gives us a fantastic indication of how those cells are changing in response to treatment as well as whether they will even respond to treatment in the first place.
This technology is now available in Australia and we are using it test these genes in our patients to see if we can marry them up with markers that we’ve already found. This will allow us to find a signature to tell us which patients will respond to which treatments.
So, that’s my research in a nutshell; the quest to find a simple blood test to guide prostate cancer treatment so that we can give each individual patient the best chance possible.