Living with cancer blog

Understanding prostate cancer, one man at a time

By Sheryl M. Ness, R.N. September 21, 2013

Researchers at Mayo Clinic are using genetic sequencing to improve treatments for men with advanced prostate cancer.

Those with advanced prostate cancer can have tumors resistant to standard hormone treatments that lower testosterone. This stage is called castrate-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) — when hormonal treatments no longer control the cancer.

Using an individualized approach, researchers are attempting to study the genetic changes within the tissue of metastatic prostate cancer tumors to better understand how to treat and gain control of the cancer.

The research is called the Prostate Cancer Medically-Optimized Genome Enhanced Therapy (PROMOTE) study, and is sponsored by the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine.

Men with CRPC have many treatment options that can prolong life after hormone therapies stop working. However, there's still no cure for CRPC. Also, there's no way to predict how each patient will respond to each treatment.

The study will attempt to understand how the tumors of those enrolled respond to different treatments, based on the genetic information of their individual tumors.

As part of the research, a biopsy is taken from the one of the sites in the body where the prostate cancer tumors have spread. The tissue is analyzed in the laboratory to study and test which drugs work best against the tumor. Once treatment starts, participants' tumors are closely monitored by medical oncologists with periodic imaging scans to see how the tumors respond to the new treatments.

All men who are diagnosed with castration-resistant prostate cancer are eligible to participate in the study who:

  • Have advanced prostate cancer that has stopped responding to hormone treatments.
  • Are about to start taking additional medications that target the CYP17 enzyme (abiraterone acetate or Zytiga).
  • Agree to undergo two tumor biopsies.

The cost of the drug is covered for the first 12 weeks of the study during which time two tumor biopsies are performed.

PROMOTE aims to help physicians better understand which drugs to prescribe, based on the genetic makeup of each person's individual cancer, and help patients live with a better control of their cancer.

For more information about the PROMOTE study, please call (507) 538-7623 or visit the Center for Individualized Medicine page at Mayo Clinic (


Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.

Sept. 21, 2013