What a whirlwind 12 months it’s been. You could not have failed to notice that prostate cancer has been big news. Our story, that prostate cancer has overtaken breast cancer as the third most common cancer killer, hit the headlines in February and generated huge interest. Prostate cancer has rarely been out of the news since.
The past year has seen us push further than ever before – we had our largest ever research project, which will help to give men the right treatment for their cancer; the largest ever number of contacts with our Specialist Nurse service; and the most funds ever donated to Prostate Cancer UK to allow us to continue our vital work.
To all of our fantastic supporters, thank you for everything you’ve done over the last 12 months. We’ve made some huge strides towards taming prostate cancer and we couldn’t have achieved any of this without you.
Together we will stop prostate cancer being a killer.
- Angela Culhane, CEO, Prostate Cancer UK
Improving diagnosis has been the one of the biggest topics in prostate cancer research over the past year. After decades of inadequate tests, we are now seeing the roll-out of mpMRI scans across the country. Since our early research showed the potential for this sophisticated scan, it is now being used to reduce the number of unnecessary biopsies and help to guide biopsy needles to areas of suspicion.
The use of mpMRI scans has been the first major advance in prostate cancer diagnosis since the PSA test was introduced a generation ago. We don’t want to wait for another generation to see the next improvement. The next big aim is to get the accuracy of tests to the level that they could be used in a national screening programme, in the way that we currently have for breast and bowel cancers.
In the past year, we funded two major research projects to bring precision medicine to men with prostate cancer for the first time. Currently men receive a one-size-fits-all approach to treatment, but we know that every man's cancer is different. Precision medicine means that the treatment is tailored to what genes are driving the cancer's growth. We've seen massive improvements to survival in other types of cancer and we want to do the same for prostate cancer.
Totalling £2.7 million, the two projects will be studying men currently on hormone therapy and men who have stopped responding to hormone therapy respectively. The projects complement each other perfectly and build on the work that we're doing to identify which men will benefit from drugs like abiraterone.
We all know that prevention is better than a cure, but that’s a tall order when it comes to prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is strongly affected by your genetics, in fact it’s one of the most heritable common cancers, and there’s not much we can do about that.
However, prevention isn’t just about stopping the cancer in the first place – it’s also important to prevent the cancer from coming back after treatment. In the past year, we’ve funded four outstanding projects focusing on better prevention:
Our commitment to supporting men remains as strong as ever, and our award-winning clinical and information services continue to empower men and demystify prostate cancer for those who have questions that need to be answered.
As well as the record 13,776 contacts for our specialist nurses and 1.5 million visitors to our health information online, here are five new ways from the past year that we’re giving men better support following their diagnosis: