Movember: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

health tips

November 01, 2019

This month is Movember, an annual global effort promoting the awareness and discussion of men's health issues, iconically supported through the growth of moustaches throughout November. Initially instigated for raising awareness about prostate cancer, Movember also helps to raise the profile of testicular cancer, mental health and suicide.

Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer affecting older men, with ~10,000 new cases recorded in Sweden each year. Despite the high risk, with 13% of men affected in their lifetime, the cause of death by prostate cancer is low. Like many cancers, prostate cancer is clinically heterogeneous and can follow multiple paths, from indolent to aggressive disease that can progress to metastases and death. African-American men have a higher risk of experiencing aggressive disease compared to other ethnic and racial groups highlighting the important to understand the biological basis of the disparities and find solutions to identify aggressive disease.

The diagnostic method for prostate cancer is a needle biopsy of the tumor and histological analysis but the use of blood biomarkers for screening are increasingly favored as fast, easy and minimally invasive ways to monitor disease. Biomarkers can objectively measure the pathological processes and can aid risk stratification, treatment prediction and therapy tracking. Progresses in routine screening tests have facilitated early tumor detection, in particular through the measurement of elevated prostate specific antigen (PSA), a protein expressed in both the normal prostate and tumor. However, challenges remain as elevated PSA occurs in other benign prostate disorders including inflammation and prostate hyperplasia, meaning PSA alone is a non-specific test for prostate cancer.

The clinical heterogeneity of prostate cancer is evident from patient's dichotomous responses to treatment, where some patients show great benefit, whilst others do not, illustrating the need for further understanding disease pathology. High-throughput technology platforms in proteomics, genomics and immunology have accelerated our understanding of the biological basis of disease, leading to the identification of new biomarkers, originating from circulating tumor cells, lipids, proteins, nucleic acid and extracellular vesicles, all components of the blood.

In the Plasma Profiling Facility we offer high-throughput analysis of proteins in bodily fluids using immunoassay technologies using i) highly multiplexed bead arrays using antibodies from the HPA, ii) commercial multiplexed immunoassays and iii) the development of novel sandwich immunoassays. Our research is centered on exploring the variation of proteins between individuals, health and disease states.