In Australia, 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetimes.
It’s now the most commonly diagnosed cancer among men, with more than 18,000 Aussie dads, grandpas, brothers and sons receiving that devastating news in the last year alone.
One of those men is Charlie, who got the shock of his life when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer 20 years ago. Charlie is still fighting to this day, never sure whether his medication will lose effectiveness—as many medications do—or if the cancer will come back.
Charlie and his wife Lina have been through so much together in their 50 years of marriage.
Charlie and his wife Lina
Charlie says, “Lina has been an incredible support throughout my cancer. She was the one to suggest I go see my doctor when I noticed the first warning sign – a single drop of blood in my urine.”
Charlie followed Lina’s advice and his doctor ordered a blood test immediately. The test revealed he had a PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) level of 700. For men in their 60s, as Charlie was at the time, levels above 4 are considered abnormal, so 700 is astronomical!
Within days, Charlie saw a specialist for an emergency biopsy, where his and Lina’s worst fears were confirmed.
With no family history of prostate cancer, the diagnosis came as an incredible shock.
“I didn’t really know that much about prostate cancer at the time, so I wasn’t sure what would happen, and I was very worried,” says Charlie.
Although Charlie’s PSA was extremely high, thankfully the cancer had not spread, and he was able to begin treatment with medication straight away. This treatment, followed by radiotherapy, chemotherapy and then a new medication, enabled him to get his cancer under control and his PSA is now down to 0.06.
Sadly, stories like Charlie’s are all too common.
But there is hope.
Professor Clive Prestidge is fighting to improve prostate cancer treatments for men like Charlie.
Professor Clive Prestidge, who is a cancer survivor himself, has developed innovative pharmaceutical technologies that will help cancer medications work more effectively.
This could decrease side effects, fasting requirements and the worry about cancer reoccurrence, while increasing quality of life.
Prof Prestidge’s research is on common prostate cancer medications like Zytiga, which is what Charlie takes every day.
Zytiga works to treat prostate cancer by reducing testosterone, but it requires patients to ‘fast’ by going without food for many hours prior to and after taking the drug.
Prof Prestidge says, “This means the drug is being used very inefficiently – literally 95% of it goes down the toilet, it doesn’t get absorbed by the body.”
The ineffectiveness of this medication, as well as the lengthy fasting requirements, have a huge impact on people like Charlie, who just wants to get on with enjoying his life.
“I don’t eat or drink for the entire morning which is very frustrating. If research can find a way to improve this drug, it would really change my life and I wouldn’t have to worry,” Charlie says.
And Prof Prestidge’s research will do exactly that!
He and his team have developed clever little nano-carriers which can take the drugs across biological barriers or help them target the right area within the body.
This is really exciting and promising news for people like Charlie, but the fight is far from over.
The research team still need to conduct human clinical trials – a crucial next step that is only possible thanks to our generous supporters.
Charlie, and the thousands of Aussie men like him, may have survived prostate cancer, but the fear of reoccurrence and impact on their daily lives continue.
Charlie has been through a lot, but knows that with research like this, there is hope for things to improve so that he and Lina can continue living life to the fullest with their children and grandchildren.
Together, we can improve prostate cancer treatments and quality of life for all the men we love.