Dr. Robert Bristow

Biology of prostate cancer

Dr. Bristow heads the Prostate Program at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre which was founded six years ago.  It consists of a top-notch team of basic scientists, urologists, medical and radiation oncologists, pathologists and radiologists.  The power in the program lies in the collaboration between basic scientists who spend most of their time in the laboratory and clinicians who spend most of their time with patients.  This sharing of information is what makes a research hospital a place of major discoveries and innovation.

The program has two primary streams of investigation:

  • Better defining a man’s individual risk of prostate cancer, and
  • Defining the best therapy for men who have prostate cancer

Prostate cancer risk

The current projects and areas of exploration in this stream of investigation include:
  • Investigation of genetic factors to determine those at higher risk of prostate cancer; especially those at higher risk at an earlier age (less than 60 years old)
  • Chemopreventative projects using antioxidants (such as selenium and vitamin E) or new drugs to inhibit the progression of cells from the pre-cancerous state to cancerous state
  • Examination of the prostate gland environment (e.g., oxygen levels, interaction between different cell types within the gland) and its influence on cancer risk and development

Prostate cancer therapies and diagnostics

With 4,000 Canadian men expected to die from prostate cancer each year, more effective treatment options are a high priority.  Projects and areas of investigation include:
  • New ways to deliver high-precision radiotherapy and chemotherapy and new drugs that inhibit cancer cell growth at the molecular level
  • New gene therapies and photodynamic laser therapy
  • Developing tests to see which treatment is best for each individual man


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