Prostate Cancer: Latest Research

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 12/2022

ON THIS PAGE: You will read about the scientific research being done to learn more about prostate cancer and how to treat it. Use the menu to see other pages.

Doctors are working to learn more about prostate cancer, ways to prevent it, how to best treat it, and how to provide the best care to people diagnosed with this disease. The following areas of research may include new options for patients through clinical trials. Always talk with your doctor about the best diagnostic and treatment options for you.

  • Finding causes of prostate cancer. Researchers continue to explore the link between nutrition and other lifestyle factors and the development of prostate cancer.

  • Early detection. Researchers are trying to develop a better prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, either a more specific and precise test or a different test. With improved testing, more healthy people could be screened for prostate cancer, so more prostate cancers could be found and treated early.

  • Genomic tests. Genomics is the study of how genes behave. Genomic tests look at the genes in prostate cancer to help predict how quickly the cancer may grow and spread. The information from these tests can help the cancer care team make decisions about the treatment plan, such as whether active surveillance is an option for those with low-risk prostate cancer or by helping the health care team make a prognosis after surgery and choose the best adjuvant treatments. Some of the genomic tests available now include Decipher, Oncotype DX, ProstaVysion, and the Prolaris Test.

    The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) recently updated their guidelines to include details about genomic testing in prostate cancer. They recommend that people with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer receive testing for inherited and tumor mutations, which could help direct treatment. 

    Learn more about ASCO recommendations for genomic tests for prostate cancer in the Diagnosis section.

  • Advanced imaging scans. Research is ongoing to use different molecules in PET-CT scans (positron-emission tomography, computed tomography; see Diagnosis) to gather important information about a prostate cancer diagnosis, such whether there is distant spread (metastasis).

  • Improved surgical techniques. Better techniques for nerve-sparing surgery can decrease the risk of urinary and sexual side effects for people who need a radical prostatectomy.

  • Shorter radiation therapy schedules. With better, more precise external-beam radiation therapy, researchers are exploring much shorter and more convenient treatment schedules. Instead of 40 treatments, researchers are evaluating using 28, 12, or 5 treatments instead.

  • Tests to evaluate the success of treatment. Research continues to evaluate biomarkers that are found in the blood. These biomarkers can help determine the effectiveness of a treatment and be used to better assess the cancer’s response to treatment. Blood tests measuring circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are 1 such test. CTCs are cells that have broken free from the tumor.

  • Improved therapy for advanced prostate cancer. Researchers are exploring different treatment options for advanced prostate cancer in clinical trials, including special targeted drugs, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, immunotherapy, and combinations of different types of therapies.

  • Palliative care/supportive care. Clinical trials are underway to find better ways of reducing symptoms and side effects of current prostate cancer treatments to improve comfort and quality of life for patients.

Looking for More About the Latest Research?

If you would like more information about the latest areas of research in prostate cancer, explore these related items that take you outside of this guide:

The next section in this guide is Coping with Treatment. It offers some guidance on how to cope with the physical, emotional, social, and financial changes that cancer and its treatment can bring. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.