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It is with great pleasure that we congratulate Dr Oliver Schumacher on being awarded a Cancer Council WA Postdoctoral Fellowship for his research at the Exercise Medicine Research Institute, Edith Cowan University.

The Cancer Council WA Postdoctoral Fellowship is awarded to outstanding early career researchers whose research benefits people in Western Australia.

Oliver’s research investigates how exercise can potentially increase the effectiveness of treatment for prostate cancer. “The impact of these results, if proven effective, are enormous. I hope to highlight exercise as a low-cost therapy that can enhance the effectiveness of cancer treatment”, he says.

Radiotherapy is one of the main treatment options for prostate cancer. However, the biology of prostate tumours is complex, with many of the blood vessels surrounding the tumours being abnormally developed, limiting the ability to deliver oxygen to some parts of the tumour.

This lack of oxygen is seen as a major limiting factor in the effectiveness of radiotherapy, with low levels of oxygen making cancer cells more resistant to radiotherapy. This reduced oxygenation of tumours is also associated with the growth and spread of cancers, ultimately contributing to treatment resistance, cancer progression and mortality.

The purpose of this project is to investigate the effects of exercise on blood flow and oxygenation in tumours of men with prostate cancer undergoing radiotherapy. Dr Schumacher will first examine if a single exercise session can improve tumour blood flow and oxygenation.

Dr Schumacher will also examine long-term effects of exercise training over the course of radiotherapy on tumour blood flow and oxygenation, as well as whether exercise can reduce treatment-related side effects such as bladder and bowel symptoms.

The impact of these results, if proven effective, have the potential to significantly improve the quality of life for prostate cancer patients, for whom urinary side effects can be challenging.  The low-cost and low-intervention nature of exercise as an effective form of therapy, adds to its importance as a field of research.

We look forward to the potential impact his research could have on improving treatment outcomes and the quality of life for prostate cancer patients in Western Australia.

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