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Web-based Prostate Cancer Database Portal Launched for Patients

October 25, 2012
by Gabriel Perna
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The National Proactive Surveillance Network, the Ceders-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute, the Prostate Cancer Foundation, and Johns Hopkins are jointly launching what they are calling the world's first online medical database designed to help men track the progression of their prostate cancer while avoiding complications from overtreatment. According to the group, the database portal will allow men with slow-growing forms of the disease to track it in a secure, interactive environment.

"Recently, new research has estimated that as many as 50 percent of newly diagnosed prostate cancer patients have a form of the disease that is so slow-growing that it often does not pose a threat to the life or long term health of the patient," said Stuart Holden, M.D., director of Cedars-Sinai’s Louis Warschaw Prostate Cancer Center and medical director for the Prostate Cancer Foundation, said in a statement. “As a result, a growing number of prostate cancer patients are deciding that the best course of action for them may be to defer initial treatment until it can be determined whether they, in fact, have the more aggressive or less aggressive form of the disease.”

According to Holden, many men with early-stage prostate are given immediate surgery or radiation. This treatment, he says, can result in complications such as impotence and incontinence, diminishing quality of life, while not increasing their lifespan. Proactive surveillance allows patients thought to have early-stage or slow-growing forms of the disease to closely monitor it.  If a patient’s cancer accelerates, then more aggressive treatment options can be safely employed.

Patients in the National Proactive Surveillance Network would undergo yearly prostate biopsies, answer extensive lifestyle and nutrition questionnaires and record their medical histories. They, and their doctor, could track their disease would be online. The patient themselves can decide whether and/or when to change the course of their treatment. Ceders-Sinai says researchers will be able to analyze trends as well as patient commonalities and differences through blind data.

Also, both Johns Hopkins Medicine on the east coast and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in the west, will analyze patient samples, including biopsy tissue, blood and urine, for future studies. Ceders-Sinai says this will be the first comprehensive clinical data and tissue collection from a group of men with early-stage, low-volume prostate cancer.  

“This database will eventually give us a better way to predict which men benefit from treatment and which men will not be harmed by choosing to defer treatment,” Holden said.  “Whether to undergo initial treatment or to engage in proactive surveillance is a personal decision that a patient makes after consulting with their own doctors and family members.”

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