Prostate Cancer Clinical Research

Clinical research is critical to our collective mission of reducing the burden of prostate cancer by designing better treatments and preventive approaches.

Through a better understanding of the causes of prostate cancer progression, Duke clinicians and researchers hope to develop strategies to individually tailor therapy or prevention based on a man’s unique characteristics, including clinical, social, cultural, ethnic, and genetic/genomic factors.

Read more about how our clinician-scientists are working to improve the outcomes of patients with prostate cancer through research in the following areas:

Duke is one of only 13 institutions nationwide selected to participate in the Department of Defense prostate cancer clinical trials consortium, which facilitates enrollment in phase I and phase II clinical trials and improves drug development for prostate cancer.

Research Highlights

  • In collaboration with the Duke Prostate Center (DPC), Duke Urology faculty members have broken new ground in the fight against prostate cancer.
  • DPC researchers have developed several nomograms to estimate the prognosis of men with advanced prostate cancer and the chance of recurrence following prostatectomy.
  • Duke researchers are studying the effects of a low carbohydrate diet in improving blood sugar control for men starting hormonal therapies.
  • Duke has opened the SMART trial (stereotactic motion-adjusted radiotherapy) for men with newly diagnosed prostate cancer. The trial uses the latest technologies to deliver five doses of radiotherapy over two weeks, reducing the duration of treatment, limiting the volume of normal tissue radiated, and potentially decreasing rectal and bladder toxicity.
  • An early-phase study at Duke is investigating the use of a novel vaccine in men with prostate cancer.
  • In 2010, sipuleucel-T (Provenge) was approved as the first immunotherapy for the treatment of prostate cancer. Duke is working with the manufacturer of Provenge, the American Red Cross, and insurance companies to offer this groundbreaking new therapy to men who meet certain qualifications. 
  • A Duke study shows that statins—used to lower cholesterol—also significantly lower the degree of inflammation within prostate tumors as well as PSA levels in healthy men. Men who were taking statins prior to surgery had a remarkable 69 percent reduction in risk for any inflammation within their prostate tumor. Moreover, Duke researchers found that men on statins have a lower risk of disease progression after surgery, which may be explained by the reduced amount of inflammation in the tumor. Animal work is ongoing to better understand the molecular mechanisms through which this occurs.
  • DPC researchers are working to tailor anti-cancer treatments to individuals based on the characteristics of their cancer by studying the molecular characterization of certain prostate cancer tumors to determine what makes some tumors more susceptible to specifically targeted therapy.
  • A clinical trial is underway to determine the efficacy of administering chemotherapy after radiation for men at high risk of recurrence after radiation and hormonal therapy.
  • DPC researchers have designed and developed a longitudinal prostate cancer outcomes database. Analyzing data from this database, a set of decision-making tools are being developed to help Duke clinicians define prognostic variables associated with the outcome of patients in different clinical scenarios and optimize clinical interventions.