Obtaining The Samples
In order to research the disease, tissue samples are necessary. Typically, all men have a biopsy in order to detect the disease. Those samples are often shipped off to research labs so that scientists can try to figure out the mystery of why men suffer from this form of cancer. It becomes extremely important to protect those samples so that they can make it to a research lab and withstand testing. Tissue samples are highly fragile and thanks to specialized medical shipping companies, such as Pacific BioStorage who know how to transport samples safely, the samples will keep their integrity during travel. It is because of all the samples in the past that have helped make the great strides in treatment.
The Birth Of The PSA
PSA is a prostate-specific antigen. It is a natural enzyme released by the prostate and when it is released in abnormally high concentrations into the blood that means prostate cancer is likely. There is now a blood test, known as a PSA Test, that can detect how much PSA is in a man’s blood. This is often done before a biopsy, eliminating an invasive procedure when it may not be necessary. Dr. T Ming Chu began the research in the 1970’s that led to the discovery of the enzyme and developed the test. In the 1970’s, the disease was a death sentence with only 4% of men surviving it. Now men are likely to recover from prostate cancer 80-90% of the time due to this vital testing. Persistence and a bounty of tissues samples are what contributed to the success of developing this test!
Research Still Continues
Despite the high success rate of the PSA test, research continues because it is not a perfect test. They have discovered that some men may rate high for PSA without developing cancer or the test misses other forms of prostate cancer. Genetics is currently being studied in order to try and keep men from ever developing prostate cancer. Researchers have discovered that there may be a connection between a specific variant of mitochondrial DNA that could raise the risk. Ongoing research will hopefully confirm or dispute that finding. If it is confirmed, we may be able to use gene therapy to destroy the possibility of prostate cancer occurrences.
Dietary research has been another area of high priority. Not only are we looking for common elements that can contribute to the disease, we are looking for natural elements that can fight off the disease before it takes hold. There are plenty of serious concerns that certain toxins in fertilizers and bug repellants on farms could be a contributing factor to the development of prostate cancer (and other cancers). At the same time, we are learning that foods with lycopenes and isoflavones can potentially keep those toxins at bay. If we can help someone change their diet to include helpful elements, and add them to treatments, it could be a defining moment in saving the lives of more men in the future.
The research will continue and our society will benefit greatly from it. If you or a loved one is concerned about developing prostate cancer, we encourage you to seek out a doctor. If you are unsure of who to visit, call your local American Cancer Society branch and ask for assistance.