Adelaide man Andrew Bills considers himself lucky, after an early diagnosis of prostate cancer five years ago.

“A lot of people say, ‘You don’t worry about getting prostate cancer until you’re over 60’. Well I was 52,” he said.

Mr Bills went through a standard series of tests to receive his diagnosis before he had surgery five months later.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty because you don’t know what you’re dealing with, and you don’t know the extent of what you’re dealing with and what your options are, and it takes time,” he said.

Andrew Bills was 52 when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.(Supplied)

Scientists from the University of South Australia are aiming to reduce that uncertainty, with research identifying precise biomarkers for prostate cancer, making it easier to pinpoint how the cancer will progress.

Researcher Jessica Logan said current detection methods provide a “baseline overview”, while the technology they were working on was about “providing an accurate and reliable diagnosis” to avoid patients from receiving too much or too little treatment.

Dr Logan said their focus was on low-risk patients.

“We know that within the first two years, there are 35 per cent of those patients [who] will require some intervention, and within five years that increases to 59 per cent,” she said.

“So for those patients that are in this low-risk category … trying to provide them with some clarity and reassurance that we are on the right treatment intervention strategies is a major focus of what we’re doing,” she said.

Jessica Logan says the current technology provides only a baseline overview of the patient’s outlook.(Supplied)

Dr Logan said Australia was looking at the most prostate cancer diagnoses this year on record.

She said it has taken researchers around 15 years to reach this stage, and it could be another five before Australians reap the benefits.

“This is I guess our first step in producing a sound data set that will facilitate potentially a clinical trial that will bring the technology here,” Dr Logan said.

The research has been developed over the past 15 years.(Supplied)

‘Groundbreaking’ research

The Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia’s Chief of Mission, Jeff Dunn, said Dr Logan’s research showed great promise.

“This research is groundbreaking,” Professor Dunn said.

“It helps build a platform for the way we might treat prostate cancer in the future.”

Professor Dunn said the research, which the Prostate Cancer Foundation has given a grant to, could improve outcomes and quality of life for men.

“Dr Logan is using tumour-based biomarkers to help identify those prostate cancers where we need to intervene — those who are perhaps needing earlier intervention in their treatment,” he said.

Professor Jeff Dunn says outcomes and survival rates could be improved if the research ‘comes to fruition’.(Supplied)

Professor Dunn said the research will hopefully identify which prostate cancers require earlier intervention, and therefore be able to “tailor and target treatment much more effectively”.

“At the moment with prostate cancer, sometimes it difficult to determine in early stage disease which ones are aggressive and need intervention and which ones are a little slower and we just need to watch for awhile before we actually get into more complex treatment,” he said.

Mr Bills said early detection was “everything”, and hoped the new technology could provide more choice for patients in the future.

“I think this new technology is fundamental, because it will give men confidence about maybe not having the operation, which is very invasive, because that’s really the choices that I had.

“And to leave the prostate in and monitor it, and that improves the quality of life for men.”

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