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News Release - Two Queen's University researchers receive funding for prostate cancer research

Thursday, September 28, 2017

KINGSTON- Two Queen’s University professors have received Movember Discovery Grants based on their contribution to prostate cancer research. Christopher Mueller (Queen’s Cancer Research Institute and the Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) has developed a blood test for prostate cancer while Caroline Pukall is studying LGBTQ+ prostate cancer patients.

The grants are funded by the Movember Foundation and selected by Prostate Cancer Canada.

Traditionally a breast cancer researcher, Dr. Mueller had developed a new test for breast cancer based on the detection of tumour DNA that is circulating in the blood and that is much more sensitive and specific than previous tests. Two years ago he decided to expand his area of study and developed a blood test for prostate cancer using funding from the Ride for Dad. This newly announced support will allow for the development of a blood test that is able to predict whether a prostate cancer patient’s tumour is likely to progress allowing physicians to decide on the appropriate treatment options.

“With this blood test we can tell if the cancer is more likely to become aggressive, and can even detect if it is spreading” says Dr. Mueller. “Ten to 20 per cent of men with prostate cancer will develop an aggressive form of the disease and if we can predict this early, we can tailor our treatment options. It’s essentially a crystal ball for doctors.”

Currently, Dr. Mueller and his team, along with clinical collaborator Dr. Robert Siemens (Department of Urology), are using blood samples collected from patients across the country to validate the blood test. This test has the potential to improve the management of these men and to extend their lives by predicting or detecting progression of their disease earlier.

Dr. Pukall and her team are launching the first-ever inclusive and comprehensive study of LGBTQ+ prostate cancer patients. She will collect information on psychosexual function, medical indicators and healthcare experiences via questionnaires and in-depth interviews.

“Although numerous papers in the cancer literature make a call to be inclusive in terms of the sexual and gender diversity of the population sampled, very few studies include those who identify as LGBTQ+,” says Dr. Pukall. “This study will fill a significant gap in the prostate cancer care literature, and it will have real-world implications for the care of LGBTQ+ cancer patients in Canada. There is strong potential for this study to provide unique information to LGBTQ+ prostate cancer patients and healthcare providers.”

For more information visit the Prostate Cancer Canada website.

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Anne Craig, Media Relations Officer

613-533-2877 or anne.craig@queensu.ca

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