Prostate Cancer

Cancer is commonly defined as the uncontrolled division of abnormal cells. When cells become aged or damaged, they are replaced with new cells. Sometimes the genetic material (DNA) of a cell can become damaged or altered, producing mutations that negatively affect cell growth and division. Prostate cancer may be slow growing, or it may be aggressive. When confined within the prostate or another organ, cancer is known to be “localized” or “organ-confined”. When cancer cells spread throughout the body (metastasize) via blood and lymph systems, they can become life threatening.

Prostate cancer is one of the leading forms of cancer diagnosed in North American men, typically in men over the age of 50. In its early stages, prostate cancer has no symptoms, which is why it’s important for men to have regular medical checkups. If diagnosed early, prostate cancer is often curable. Treatment can eliminate symptoms and prolong life expectancy.

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Risk Factors

There are several risk factors for prostate cancer, some modifiable, others not. These include:

  • Age – Prostate cancer is most commonly diagnosed in men over the age of 50.
  • Family History – Research shows an increased risk for prostate cancer in sons, brothers and fathers of men with the disease.
  • Genetics – Inherited gene changes may increase prostate cancer risk.
  • Diet – High fat, high calcium and high red meat diets may increase the risk of developing prostate cancer.
  • Ethnicity – Studies have shown that prostate cancer is more common in men of African ethnicity.

For more information about the prostate, visit the Prostate Cancer Canada website.

Dr. Nawaid Usmani and team receive funding for their PRIME study!

The PRIME Study – Prevention and Intervention for MEtabolic syndrome:

Androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), and newer manipulations of androgen receptor signaling have improved outcomes for advanced prostate cancer (PCa) patients.  The toxicities of ADT are many, including an increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome (MS; defined as at least 3 of: hyperglycemia; abdominal obesity; hypertriglyceridemia; reduced HDL cholesterol; and/or hypertension). MS is associated with an increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease mortality, stroke mortality, and all-cause mortality.  The prevalence of MS in men receiving ADT is at least 50% and contributes to decreased quality of life and increased non-cancer-related mortality.  Metformin holds promise as a countermeasure to MS development, and also has been shown to suppress PCa growth in pre-clinical models.

We hypothesize that the addition of metformin to ADT will reduce the rates of MS in men with advanced PCa, diminishing important toxicities of a therapy universally used in advanced disease.

We propose a double-blind, randomized phase III study of metformin or placebo in men with PCa starting intermittent ADT. The primary endpoint is the difference in MS rates at 1 year.  Other aims include evaluation of the influence of metformin on: individual MS components at additional time points; mean serum insulin levels and measures of insulin resistance; weight and quality of life.

A finding that metformin reduces MS incidence and/or has other benefits would change practice, as it would provide a practical and inexpensive strategy to reduce toxicity of an intervention employed in most men with advanced PCa.

- Catalina Vasquez