How you can end men’s cancers this Blue September

Blue September is a month dedicated to raising awareness of the risks that cancers pose to men. The campaign encourages men to stay diligent about their health and helps to raise funds for world-class research into the prevention, treatments and ultimately cures for some of the most common cancers affecting men.

In Australia, one in two Australian men will get cancer in their lifetime – that’s 20% more men than women who will be touched by this terrible disease. Despite this statistic, men often tend to have a bad track record when it comes to looking after their own health.

This is why we would like to invite you to join us in celebrating or remembering the men who are important to you and encourage them to start thinking about their health and family histories with cancer. There are lots of great ways you can get involved to help prevent cancer in men:

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Edited in September 2018: You can support our current Men’s Cancer Month campaign here.

New treatment options possible with bowel cancer discovery

090126_082-300x225Melbourne cancer scientists believe they have found a cause for the onset and acceleration of bowel cancer.

Being the third most common cancer in Australia, this exciting discovery opens up the possibility for new ways to treat bowel cancer, bringing hope to patients suffering from the disease.

Researchers from the prestigious Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre found a two-part failure in bowel cancer cells. Essentially, the mechanisms which stop a cell from multiplying uncontrollably, stop working in bowel cancer cells.

This failure causes the acceleration of the disease and, additionally, the development of resistance to cancer treatments. This two-part failure is known as “chromosomal instability” and is caused by a signalling network in the cell called the Wnt Pathway.

“Previously, in most bowel cancers, we thought this instability built up randomly over time as cancer cells evolved, while a signalling network, called the Wnt pathway, held cells back from chromosome chaos,” Professor Rob Ramsay said.

“Now we have proven this instability begins immediately with the breakdown of the Wnt pathway, which occurs in two steps and sets off an unstoppable acceleration of disease.

“Just as the loss of firstly the handbrake, followed by the secondary loss of a foot brake, both combine to allow a car to career down a hill.”

Chromosomal instability was found in 85 per cent of tumours in people with bowel cancer.

Professor Ramsay says the “double breakdown” in the Wnt pathway sparked complex evolution in the genetic make-up of bowel cancers.

“The dramatic genomic changes cells go through gives the cancer a breadth of opportunities to rapidly evolve, to deceive and outflank the cancer treatments.”

Professor Ramsay said the findings open up potential new treatment possibilities.

“This fundamental new information reaffirms why the Wnt pathway should be a high priority target of new treatment development, and the genetic clues uncovered by our research will help guide the selection of patients for different therapies, some of which are currently available,” he said.

Cancer scientists can now explain a third of the inherited risk of prostate cancer

tao-research-mainAn exciting discovery during a major international study has revealed cancer scientists can now identify men at a 6-fold increased risk of prostate cancer.

Cancer scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, together with researchers in Cambridge, and California found 23 new genetic variants associated with increased risk of the disease.

The study means that scientists can now explain 33% of the inherited origins of prostate cancer in European men and will contribute to determining whether these genetic markers can improve on other tests for the disease.

Professor Ros Eeles, Professor of Oncogenetics at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and Honorary Consultant in Clinical Oncology at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, said, “Our study tells us more about the effect of the genetic hand that men are dealt on their risk of prostate cancer.

“We know that there are a few major genes that are rare and significantly affect prostate cancer risk, but what we are now learning is that there are many other common genetic variants that individually have only a small effect on risk, but collectively can be very important.”

They are now investigating whether genetic testing could help diagnose more men at risk of developing dangerous forms of prostate cancer that need urgent treatment – something that the current test is unable to determine.

“Building on previous research, this study gives a more complete list of these factors, bringing us closer to knowing who may need screening for prostate cancer and which men may benefit from early treatment. More work needs to be done, but identifying these genetic factors will allow us to better understand the disease and maybe even develop new treatments,” said Professor Eeles.

In Australia, 22,000 men die from cancer every year and one in two Australian men will get cancer in their lifetime – that’s 20% more men than women who will be touched by this terrible disease.

This September is Blue September, an annual campaign that encourages all Australians to face up to cancer in men and promotes research into men’s cancers.

If you are able to make a donation to men’s cancer research this September and help speed up research discoveries like this, we thank you so very much.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Cancer researchers find prostate cancer “Achilles Heel” and move closer to a new treatment

An international group of scientists from Australia and Canada are getting closer to a new treatment for prostate cancer that works by starving tumours of an essential nutrient.

Dr Jeff Holst from Sydney’s Centenary Institute, and his colleagues from Adelaide, Brisbane and Vancouver have shown they can slow the growth of prostate cancer by stopping the protein ‘leucine’ from being pumped into tumour cells.

Leucine is involved in cell division and making proteins. It ‘feeds’ cell growth by being pumped through ‘protein pumps’ on the surface of our cells.

In 2011, Dr Holst and his colleagues showed that prostate cancer cells have more ‘protein pumps’ on their surface compared with normal cells. These pumps are allowing the cancer cell to take in more leucine, thereby stimulating overactive cell division.

Continue reading “Cancer researchers find prostate cancer “Achilles Heel” and move closer to a new treatment”

Cells involved in aggressive prostate cancer growth to be targeted in the disease’s early stages

A new sub-group of cells that influences prostate cancer recurrence has been identified by researchers at Monash University.

The previously unidentified cells are present in the disease’s early stages, opening up new doors to develop a therapy which targets these cells and prevents the disease from progressing to an aggressive stage.

Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men, claiming more than 3000 Australian lives and affecting up to 20,000 annually.

For advanced cases, the best available treatment involves drugs that deprive the tumour of the male hormones which cause it to grow (androgen-deprivation therapy) . In many cases, the tumour can become resistant to this treatment leaving the patient with both debilitating side-effects and an aggressive new form of the prostate cancer.

The new sub-group of cells identified by Monash researchers is involved in this very treatment resistance. Continue reading “Cells involved in aggressive prostate cancer growth to be targeted in the disease’s early stages”

ACRF funds landmark discovery

At the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF), we love to see results and that’s why we’re investing more than ever in world-class equipment and infrastructure for research into cancer.

Since 1987 we’ve provided 41 grants totalling almost $71 million to Australian cancer research institutes ($48 million of which has been awarded in the last six years). We profile some of the latest breakthroughs:

1) In a landmark discovery, scientists at the Walter & Eliza Hall Institute have discovered the links between breast cancer risk and exposure to female hormones. This breakthrough research project – partially funded by a $5million ACRF grant – found that breast stem cells, despite lacking receptors for the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone, are still extra sensitive to sustained exposure to these hormones.

2) ACRF funding means researchers at the Garvan Institute are now closer to ‘switching off’ the gene identified as causing prostate cancer, following a world-first detailed description of gene expression in prostate cancer cells. ACRF has now awarded two research grants to the Garvan, the latest of $5million in honour of Lady (Sonia) McMahon.

3) Researchers at the Queensland Brain Institute’s ACRF Brain Tumour Research Centre are saving patients’ lives by safely taking primary tissue samples directly from patients and separating tumour cells from contaminated normal tissue, blood cells and cellular debris – made possible with numerous scientific instruments funded by ACRF.