[L-R] David Gillatt, Monish Patel and Howard Gurney. Photo: Chris Stacey.
[L-R] David Gillatt, Monish Patel and Howard Gurney. Photo: Chris Stacey.

Prostate cancer: Is vitamin D the answer to slowing its growth?

Macquarie has been awarded a grant of $1 million for prostate cancer research, from the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and the Movember Foundation.

The study originated from an idea proposed by the NSW Cancer Council scientist Dr Visalini Nair-Shalliker, and then was shaped by a team of Macquarie urologists and scientists, with Professor Howard Gurney in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences as principal investigator.

“Some forms of prostate cancer are very slow growing and rarely spread to other parts of the body and ideally should not be treated with aggressive surgery. Such patients are watched carefully on an ‘active surveillance’ program but 30 to 50 per cent progress and require a prostatectomy or radiotherapy,” said Howard.

“Preliminary evidence shows that the use of high dose vitamin D might slow cancer growth, and this study will test whether the use of high dose vitamin D in such patients will slow cancer growth and reduce the need for aggressive therapy,” he concluded.

The study will be coordinated by Macquarie University and will be undertaken in more than 10 centres throughout Australia with 120 patients.

Preliminary results are expected in about three years and, if positive, will trigger a larger international randomised study to prove the effectiveness of Vitamin D in this setting.