Progress Report: Karen Knudsen, Ph.D; Adam Dicker, MD, Ph.D

Co-Investigator: Karen Knudsen, PhD–Associate Professor, Department of Cancer Biology and Urology at the Kimmel Cancer Center, Thomas Jefferson University

Co-Investigator: Adam Dicker, MD, PhD–Professor, Chairman of Radiation Oncology, Director of Christine Baxter Research Laboratory for Experimental Cancer Therapies, Co-Director Radiation Research and Translational Biology Program at the Kimmel Cancer Center, Thomas Jefferson University

Radiation Therapy to Block “Self-Seeding” of Circulating Tumor Cells

Prostate cancer is a devastating disease that originates within the prostate gland, and subsequently disseminates throughout the body. A major goal of this project is to validate the concept that there is an ongoing relationship between the original tumor within the prostate gland, and the disseminated cancer cells in other parts of the body. Dr. Dicker and Dr. Knudsen are investigating whether radiation therapy of the primary tumor in advanced prostate cancer has a deleterious effect on the survival and growth of distant metastatic lesions in the bone. To test this they have successfully created a novel animal model of metastatic prostate cancer and have designed an apparatus that can deliver focal radiation therapy to the mouse prostate (a very small organ) only and not the rest of the animal. Currently, the team from Thomas Jefferson University is using these tools to definitively demonstrate whether or not local control of the primary tumor via radiation therapy will have a clinical benefit for patients with metastatic disease.

Terms to know from this article:

Prostate gland

A gland in the male reproductive system just below the bladder. The prostate surrounds part of the urethra, the canal that empties the bladder, and produces a fluid that forms part of semen.


A mass of excess tissue that results from abnormal cell division. Tumors perform no useful body function. They may be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).


An organ that makes one or more substances, such as hormones, digestive juices, sweat, tears, saliva, or milk. Endocrine glands release the substances directly into the bloodstream. Exocrine glands release the substances into a duct or opening to the inside or outside of the body.