Transforming the prostate cancer story

This article featured in Illuminate Newsletter Summer ‘23
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Mike Waller, WEHI consumer advocate and cancer survivor, receiving prostate cancer treatment.

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among men worldwide and each year, over 3500 Australian men die from the disease.

During a routine health check in late 2015, Mike Waller’s doctor detected elevated levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in his blood – a potential indicator of prostate problems. Mike was referred to a urologist and unfortunately, the results were unequivocal – he had high-grade prostate cancer.

“I was in shock. In that moment, my greatest fear was that this diagnosis signalled an early and agonising end to my life,” he recalls. Mike and his wife Sue joined – and later ran – a prostate cancer support group where they gained insights into the challenges patients face.

“It became abundantly clear to us that identifying more effective diagnostic methods and treatments for prostate cancer patients is imperative.”

Fuelled by a desire to improve the outlook for all men facing prostate cancer, Mike also joined the WEHI Consumer Advocates program to help researchers find better ways to diagnose, prevent and treat cancers.

World-first research project

WEHI researchers are collaborating with an international consortium, the Pan-Prostate Cancer Group, to analyse the largest prostate cancer data project ever undertaken. The team’s mission is to gain deeper genetic insights from over 2000 prostate cancer samples collected around the world. The goal of this world-first, massscale project is to better understand what causes prostate cancer, how the cancer changes as it progresses, and what determines the outcome for patients.

“Our overarching goal is to illuminate the shadowy corners of cancer, inching closer to a future where no one has to lose their loved ones to this disease,” PhD student Jennifer Ureta says.

First published on 01 December 2023
This article featured in Illuminate Newsletter Summer ‘23
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