State Prostate Cancer Coalition Funds Cancer Center Research

New Hampshire group's gift will support research to distinguish effective from unnecessary treatments

Norris Cotton Cancer Center has received a generous donation of $5,000 from the New Hampshire Prostate Cancer Coalition (NHPCC) to help support a unique, collaborative research project designed to help clinicians distinguish between men who need to be treated for prostate cancer and those who do not.

Focus article photo

Ryan Halter, PhD, (l) receives a check to help fund his research on prostate cancer tumors from the members of the New Hampshire Prostate Cancer Coalition.

Prostate Cancer and Bioimpedance

The grant will help fund a collaborative research project being conducted by Ryan Halter, PhD, of Dartmouth College's Thayer School of Engineering and the Cancer Center. The project uses electrical bioimpedance to distinguish dangerous prostate cancers from those that pose little threat to a man's health. According to Dr. Halter, "Electrical bioimpedance measurements of tissue provide significant levels of contrast between benign and malignant pathologies due to the vastly different morphologies occurring between tissue types. Focal sensing or mapping of these properties can provide clinicians useful information regarding the extent and severity of diseases like cancer."

Being able to make such a distinction will enable doctors to focus treatment on patients who will benefit the most.

The Most Common Men's Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer among men, with approximately 30,000 men dying from the disease each year in the United States. According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 240,000 men in the U.S. will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2011, and more than 33,000 American men will die of the disease. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which makes recommendations about the effectiveness of specific clinical preventive services for patients without related signs or symptoms, "lifetime risk of diagnosis" for prostate cancer is currently estimated at 15.9%, or approximately 1 in 6.

A Significant Gift for a Significant Problem

The donation is the first and largest research gift by any state prostate cancer coalition in the U.S., said Steve Ladew, president of the NH organization. The gift comprised 25% of NHPCC's assets. "Our mission is to help reduce the number of New Hampshire men dying of prostate cancer. A major problem is that the medical community is unable to differentiate between prostate cancers that will kill a man and cancers that will never harm him," said Ladew. "We hope our gift to this program will encourage others to also give."

"We strongly encourage other state prostate cancer coalitions to support research," said John Sias, founder and past president of the NHPCC. "The more we know about prostate cancer, the better testing and treatments we'll have. With so many men at risk—hundreds of thousands every year—the need cannot be overstated."

"Though the NHPCC calls themselves 'average guys just trying to make a difference,' I can't agree," said Mark Israel, MD, Director of Norris Cotton Cancer Center. "This group is uniquely strong in their commitment to men's health in New Hampshire and beyond. The coalition includes men from a broad range of backgrounds including research science, technology, business and the arts. That diversity of experience has informed their approach to prostate cancer from understanding the medical issues, to educating others, to fundraising. They are wholly committed to every patient having optimal, personalized treatment. Their gift of $5,000 has been directed to Ryan Halter, PhD, whose work in electrical bioimpedance promises important new understandings of how to best test for and treat prostate cancer. I very much appreciate NHPCC's partnership with us in seeking a cure for prostate cancer."

Organized in May of 2006, the New Hampshire Prostate Cancer Coalition works to inform men of the dangers of prostate cancer, including the pros and cons of being tested. The Coalition also urges men to talk to their doctor about the PSA test. Most of the organization's 16 directors are prostate cancer survivors. The donation to the Lebanon, NH, cancer center was the Coalition's third. Previously it made two gifts to prostate cancer programs for nurses.

Revised January 16, 2012

November 22, 2011