05/08/2017

Welcome to the world of precision medicine

It sounds futuristic, like science fiction, or a cool exhibit, something that promises great things for tomorrow, something that’s not here yet.

But this is different. Precision medicine is already here. We have revolutionary new knowledge which has given us new targets for a smarter, more scientific approach that is helping all men with prostate cancer – but particularly those who need it most, men with metastatic prostate cancer.

Even a year ago, many of these men had to endure the discouraging trial-and-error process of finding drugs that work for them. We hate trial and error; it takes up valuable time and wears you down.

One day, there won’t be trial and error for prostate cancer drugs. Thanks to research funded by the Prostate Cancer Foundation, we have new targets – genes we now know to look for – that have led to new tests, which point us to specific drugs.  Some of these drugs may not even be intended for prostate cancer, but for colon cancer or breast cancer; yet they are likely to work in your cancer if you have those same faulty genes, too.

We now know that you don’t just have prostate cancer; you have a very particular type of it – one of over 27 different kinds (scientists call them clones) of prostate cancer. This is not as crucial to understand if you have localized, low- or intermediate-risk disease.  But it is very important to understand if you have high-risk or advanced disease.

Just as we all have different fingerprints, cancer has different fingerprints, too – except these fingerprints are genetic. The genes that are mutated in your piece of the prostate cancer jigsaw puzzle are most likely different from the genes involved in the prostate cancer of the man sitting next to you in the doctor’s waiting room. Your cancer is literally programmed differently from that guy’s; it’s driven by slightly different software, because the DNA code is different.

This means that when it comes to advanced or high-risk prostate cancer, we know that the treatment that works on one man’s cancer may not work on yours, and now we know why.  So we shouldn’t treat you both the same. We need custom-tailored treatment, and that begins with custom-tailored diagnosis.

We shouldn’t be treating prostate cancer; we should be treating you.

This is a frontier, a leading edge of medicine. It’s all so new, but we have turned a corner on prostate cancer, and there’s no going back. We’ve seen it with HIV. We are seeing amazing results in metastatic prostate cancer, and in other metastatic cancers.

We have momentum, but we’re not done yet, not by a long shot. There’s much more work to do.  Already, the death rate is half of what it used to be 20 years ago. Many men who have metastatic prostate cancer are not going to die of it; with these new approaches, we are putting them into long remissions.

Our goal is cure, and we’re not there yet. But we can see it; it’s not just some vague hope, not wishful thinking. We’re getting there, thanks to precision medicine. This is why we have raised and pushed $630 million dollars into research over the last two decades: to stop men from dying of prostate cancer.

And this is why we’ve launched Many vs Cancer: to accelerate these new precision medicines, see more men who are exceptional responders to new treatments, improve the quality of life of prostate cancer patients — and save lives. With your help, with the power of Many, I know we can do it.

After all, it takes more than one person to fight prostate cancer. It takes Many.

Sincerely,

Jonathan W. Simons, MD

President and CEO