MONTREAL -- After years of work, a team of Montreal researchers thinks they’ve found a game-changer in treating prostate cancer.

“It's going to be easier to actually deal with the disease before it spreads, and before it's generalized,” said Dominique Trudeal, a researcher at the CHUM, the Université de Montreal’s hospital centre.

With a new technique, they can drastically speed up how fast they can tell if a patient’s prostate cancer is aggressive. Within just an hour and a half, Trudel says, “you have your results.”

This could affect a lot of people: in Canada, one in nine men will be diagnosed at some point with prostate cancer. Of these, 20 per cent experience an aggressive form of it.

“Prostate cancer is by far the most common cancer in men,” and the third highest cause of death, explained Dr. Fred Saad, the research director of the project, which also involved scientists at the Polytechnique Montreal.

Knowing what path a patient’s cancer is taking helps doctors tell them exactly what to expect in treatment, helping them, in turn, make medical decisions, Saad said.

It “gives extra certainty when we're having this discussion because patients are really central to the decision—it's their lives. They have to make the ultimate decision.” 

More testing is needed before the technique can be put to wide use, but, they say, it’s a big step.