Prostate Cancer: Our Research

The Victorian Prostate Cancer Registry is managed by Monash University’s Department of Epidemiology, and collects clinical quality data from over 10,000 participating men with prostate from across 33 Victorian health services and clinics. Over the past five years, the registry has provided feedback about prostate cancer treatment to doctors, patients, funders and policy makers, and has inspired international teams to foster benchmarking of care.

Thanks to the prostate cancer registry, we know that treatment of men with prostate cancer has significantly improved in Victoria since 2011. Reports on patterns and quality of care have led to reviews of treatment processes in local hospitals and changes to the treatment programs.

Monash University’s Prostate Cancer Research Group, headed by Prof Gail Risbridger, is an internationally recognised team with a focus on developing new therapies for men with the final stages of prostate cancer. The team is pioneering Australian research with the development of a 3D bio-engineered scaffold-based model to investigate the effects of the tumour microenvironment in locally advanced prostate cancer progression. They are also credited for breakthrough research which detected a pathology called intraductal carcinoma of the prostate, and determined that men with this condition who also carry the BRCA2 gene mutation are 17 times more likely to die from prostate cancer. This discovery has changed the way urolo

Researchers from Monash University and the Hudson Institute are collaborating with oncologists at Monash Health to determine whether particular prostate and colorectal cancer patients will respond to a new class of cancer drug known as BET inhibitors. Unlike chemotherapy which indiscriminately attacks ‘good’ and ‘bad’ cells, BET inhibitors—a type of epigenetic therapy—work on a genetic level to turn off the growth of cancer cells. Led by Dr Arun Azad the clinical trial is the first in the world to look at the association between patients with RNA molecules and BET inhibitors. The project builds on the previous work of Hudson Institute’s A/Prof Ron Firestein, who identified the RNA biomarker and potential benefit of BET inhibitors in pre-clinical models in his previous laboratory at Genentech Inc.

A/Prof Jeremy Millar is the Director of Radiation Oncology at Alfred Health, which includes one of Melbourne’s premier centres the William Buckland Radiotherapy Centre. A/Prof Millar leads the Radiation Oncology Genito-Urinary cancer group at Alfred Health and as part of this, developed and leads a large prostate brachytherapy program at the Melbourne Prostate Institute, as well as an External Beam Radiotherapy Service. A/Prof Millar provides a specialist understanding of the effects of radiation on normal tissues and urological malignancies, as well as an academic and research interest in prostate cancer.

Professor Mark Frydenberg is one of Australia’s most respected urological oncologists and has been a leading authority in Active Surveillance for low risk prostate cancer. He is Head of the Department of Urology at Monash Medical Centre, Chairman of the Urologic Oncology Special Advisory Group of the Urological Society of Australia and New Zealand and has a clinical associate professorship in the Monash University Departments of Surgery. As well as his clinical expertise, Professor Frydenberg is a major contributor to patient education and supporter of Men’s Health.

Monash University’s Eastern Health Clinical School, headed by Prof Ian Davis, has a dedicated Oncology Clinical Trials Unit at Box Hill Hospital. The unit has both Investigator and Pharmaceutical clinical trials for a variety of cancers including prostate cancer, although studies are mostly Phase 2 or Phase 3 large collaborative studies.

Cabrini’s Szalmuk Family Psycho-oncology Unit is involved in a range of collaborative research projects and are currently developing a treatment decision making aid for men with early stage prostate cancer. Other recent research includes the impact of physical activity on the psychological well-being of men undergoing androgen deprivation therapy.