Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the second most common cause of cancer in men and the second leading cause of cancer death in American men. The American Cancer Society estimates more than 200,000 new cases will be diagnosed in 2005.

Mayo Clinic is the world leader in prostate cancer treatment and research. Urologists at Mayo Clinic specialize in the latest open and laparoscopic surgical techniques and medical treatments. In combination with colleagues in medical oncology and the cancer center, we offer comprehensive and diverse options of therapies for men with prostate cancer. With so many patients, Mayo has accumulated an unmatched repository of prostate cancer information with an extensive store of clinical data, tissue and serum samples.

The key to curing prostate cancer is early diagnosis. Due to improved screening and early detection (by use of the prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test and digital rectal exam), many men with prostate cancer are being diagnosed early, when the cancer is still contained, known as localized prostate cancer. Consequently, prostate cancer can often be cured with either surgery or radiation. Some men decide not to treat their cancer at all. Others delay treatment (known as watchful waiting) or choose to use anti-hormone shots, which slow, but do not cure, prostate cancer. The decision as to which treatment method is best involves many factors.

Scientists in the Department of Urology and throughout Mayo Clinic are committed to enhancing the management of patients with urologic cancers. To accomplish this goal, research studies are performed to improve our fundamental understanding of cancer biology and how to better target cancer cells with surgical and medical approaches.

The following are summaries of recent and current research projects in prostate cancer:

  • Research on how cells survive in the absence of androgens. Specifically, the regulation of the androgen receptor gene in prostate cancer cells and other androgen-regulated cells. For the many patients who have responded to the androgen ablation therapy and are experiencing re-growth of the tumor - this research could be the difference between life and death.
  • The identification of genes occurring differently in normal and malignant prostate tissue using sophisticated techniques capable of identifying thousands of individual genes (electronic profiling of expressed sequence tags and DNA microarray chip technology).
  • The occurrence of different forms of prostate-specific genes, such as PSA and hK2, appear to be useful in detecting prostate cancer.
  • Expression of certain genes such as the tumor suppressor protein PTEN and the cell survival protein Bcl-2 are associated with tumor progression in prostate cancer.
  • Certain cellular pathways important in the regulation of cellular growth, such as the androgen receptor and the PI3K signaling pathways, play key roles in prostate cancer that does not respond to hormonal therapies. These studies may lead to more effective methods for the detection and prognosis of prostate cancer.
  • Mayo Clinic researchers were the first to identify an interaction between two cellular proteins, Skp2 and FOXO1. In essence, they discovered a viable therapeutic target in human cancers, especially those with high levels of Skp2. Their findings suggest a promising new treatment target for which drug designers can aim new therapies for prostate cancer and other cancers.
  • Validation of Biomarkers in Prostate Cancer: The Mayo Prostate Cancer Program will participate in an Inter-SPORE Prostate Biomarkers Study (IPBS), which is a multi-SPORE (Specialized Programs of Research Excellence) effort to rigorously evaluate biomarkers for prostate cancer prognosis in men treated by prostatectomy or radiation. The overall goal is to determine the ability of candidate biomarkers to improve prediction of recurrence beyond that achievable with existing nomograms based on clinicopathologic factors. Read more about our SPORE study.