It can sometimes take something really shocking to make the news and sadly that was the case earlier this year. You might have seen the headlines yourself – it was in every national newspaper and on all the major TV and radio channels: prostate cancer has now overtaken breast cancer to become the third biggest cancer killer in the UK.
Thanks to your support so far, we’ve raised awareness of the need for research which recently led to the government committing more money to prostate cancer research. But after decades of underfunding, this still isn’t enough, and we still need your help.
Over the past twenty years, the number of men dying from prostate cancer has been steadily increasing as the advances in better treatments hasn’t kept pace with the growing older population. By contrast we’ve seen the number of deaths from breast cancer falling over the same time period and it is now lower than the deaths from prostate cancer.
By donating today, you can help rewrite the headlines.
There have been major advances in breast cancer including a national screening programme with mammograms and a more tailored precision medicine approach to treatment. These have had a tremendous impact for thousands of women and we want to achieve the same for men.
We know that early diagnosis is the key to saving lives and a screening programme would help us to do that, but we don’t have good enough tests yet. We currently rely on the PSA blood test as a firstline check, but it simply isn’t accurate enough to be offered to every man regardless of his risk.
If we can accelerate the progress we’re making in research, we could be ready for a screening programme in just five years. Can you imagine the difference that could make?
For men like Kevin Webber (pictured above with his son Ollie), it could have made all the difference in the world. At the age of 49, he was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer – it had been caught too late to be cured and he was told he might only have two years to live. In a single cruel blow, the future life he had planned – seeing his sons go to university, walking his daughter down the aisle, holding his first grandchild – was taken away.
This research means my sons won't have to face prostate cancer as I am.
Kevin’s dad had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, but Kevin didn’t know that put him at a higher risk than average. Kevin’s sons will also be at a high risk when they get older and, with the time he has left, he’s fighting for the crucial research needed so that they will never have to face the same diagnosis as him.
For a screening programme to be put in place, we need to be able to avoid biopsies and treatments for men who don’t need them, while making sure we don’t miss aggressive cancers.
We started funding Dr Hayley Whitaker almost twenty years ago as our first PhD student. She has already developed tests for key markers of prostate cancer and is now taking these further to combine them with new advances in imaging. Finding a more accurate blood test is a crucial part of a screening programme and Dr Whitaker’s research could get us there. Donating today will help us get closer to a screening programme.
When I first started, nobody knew anything about prostate cancer – breast cancer research had all the funding and all the knowledge. Now as time’s gone on, we’ve followed in the footsteps of breast cancer research and we’ve learnt from their successes and their mistakes. So we’ve progressed prostate cancer research much, much faster by being able to learn from what they’ve done.
In just five years, we could be at the start of a new era – where prostate cancer is caught and treated early, and men and their families don’t have to fear getting the same news as Kevin. Just imagine seeing the headlines then and knowing that you were a part of making that happen.