12 November 2014

November 12 2014: Today, Lancet, the world's leading general medical journal, published a paper announcing details of a prostate cancer breakthrough with significant implications for men when it comes to deciding their treatment path. The research project has been primarily funded by the Movember Foundation, which has invested CAN $15 million, the largest donation ever made by the Foundation to a single research project.

The paper, titled, Tumour genomic and microenvironmental heterogeneity for integrated prediction of 5-year biochemical recurrence of prostate cancer: a retrospective cohort study, found that men have a genetic "signature" that will identify prostate cancer patients who are at high risk of their cancer recurring after surgery or radiotherapy.

Paul Villanti, Movember Foundation, Executive Director of Programs, comments, "This is a significant development and one that will positively impact the treatment for many men around the world. As a strategic funder of men's health programs, our prostate cancer goal is for men living with the disease to have the treatment and care needed to be physically and mentally well. This piece of work is a important step in helping to achieve our goals in this space."

Prostate cancer is a major global problem with close to a million men being diagnosed each year. Unfortunately 250,000 men will die of the disease. 

Current methods for identifying the risk of prostate cancer recurrence using pre-treatment biopsies - are inadequate. New and improved tests are urgently needed to better predict which patients are likely to relapse after their primary therapy. These men can then be offered a more tailored and intensified treatment plan, ensuring a higher chance of survival. The ability to build more personalized medicine plans using the personal genetics of each man will also ensure that fewer people undergo unnecessary treatments that can have serious side effects.

Professor Rob Bristow of the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Canada, who led the research comments, "There is a fundamental difference between this genetic test and other tests that have been developed. This test is based on biopsies – the information that is brought into the clinic at the very beginning of a patient’s diagnosis. Based on this information, we hope to change treatment right up front for patients to choose the best treatment that is personalized to their particular cancer."

The Movember Foundation believes that building powerful collaborative teams from around the world represents one of the most significant opportunities to reduce the number of deaths and improve quality of life for men living with and beyond prostate cancer. This research project is a great example of international collaboration, involving researchers and institutions from not only Canada, but from around the world.

Bristow continues, "We believe this project and test is of global significance not only for a number of institutions around the world involved in developing the test but for the million men who will be diagnosed with prostate cancer around the world. We want to change and decrease the number of men dying by giving patients the appropriate therapy for the aggressiveness of the disease. A team was amassed across the world to develop this test and now we want to implement it in hospitals worldwide within the next five years to change up the discussion as well as the treatment for individual patients."

The Canadian researchers will work with other countries to validate the test over the next two to three years in larger and more diverse groups of patients to ensure that it will successfully work in hospitals worldwide. If validated, this will lead to a new test for prostate cancer that can be turned around in three days and will inform doctors which patients are most likely to need only a local treatment (such as surgery or radiation therapy) versus those patients that will require additional systemic treatments such as hormone therapy, chemotherapy or novel molecular therapies.

Villanti concludes, "This research proves the considerable impact that Movember funds are having, the results of which have the potential to benefit hundreds of thousands of men and their families around the world. The Movember Foundation would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported the cause to date and ask that they once again get behind the cause and make a donation in order that the Foundation is able to continue to fund important work, such as this piece of transformative research, that will have an ever-lasting impact on the face of men’s health."

For more information on programs funded by the Movember Foundation or to donate, visit Movember.com.