Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American males and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in males. Prostate cancers have several distinctive properties. These tumors often grow very slowly in the prostate. In fact, the majority of men with prostate cancer will not have metastases to other organs and will not die of prostate cancer. However, when prostate tumor cells do escape from the prostate, they frequently form metastases in the spine and these metastatic colonies often grow rapidly and are life-threatening. Early prostate cancers rarely have the capacity to metastasize. It often takes years or decades for the tumors to develop a series of mutations that allow the cells to form metastases outside of the prostate.
The goals of our research on prostate cancer are:
- To understand why prostate tumors tend to grow slowly in the prostate yet rapidly when they metastasize to the spine.
- To discover naturally occurring inhibitors that slow tumor growth in the prostate.
- To find ways to improve prognosis and to predict which patients are more or less likely to develop metastatic prostate cancer based on the properties of their primary tumors at the time of diagnosis.