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Colorado on the forefront of prostate cancer research

Posted at 5:35 AM, Nov 15, 2018

DEN­­VER – About 165,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year. Another 29,000 will die.

While those numbers are ominous, there is hope. Researchers say prostate cancer is a disease with a long life-span. That means that for most men, the time between diagnosis and death is long. Researchers say that time span means there is a lot of opportunity for intervention with treatments that could extend the patients’ lives even further. 

“My goal will be higher quality of life as well as you go through the treatment,” said researcher Isabel Schlaepfer.

Dr. Schlaepfer is working on finding non-toxic treatments for prostate cancer by focusing on the lipids prostate cancer cells need to live. She believes it’s possible to develop treatments that can extend the life of prostate cancer patients the way treatments have helped patients with other diseases. 

“If you think about people with diabetes, it's a chronic disease but they live with it and they have a full life,” she pointed out.

Dr. Schlaepfer says cancer cells feed on different types of lipids. She is working on identifying those that help cancer cells grow the most and developing treatments that target those lipids. She believes she can find a treatment that doesn’t use chemotherapy or radiation to fight prostate cancer.

“Eventually I could devise a therapy, a lifestyle intervention, where you can custom diet the fats that work better with your cancer,” she said.

The research in Dr. Schlaepfer’s lab is funded by a grant from the American Cancer Society. You can support Dr. Schlaepfer’s work by donating to the American Cancer Society through the Denver NovemBEARD campaign. Denver7 reporters Russell Haythorn and Jason Gruenauer are growing beards this November to help bring attention to the cause.