Prostate Cancer UK and Our Future Health

News – 20 January 2022
How Prostate Cancer UK is working with Our Future Health.

Tell us what Prostate Cancer UK does

Prostate Cancer UK has a simple ambition – to stop prostate cancer damaging the lives of men and their families.

Dr Matthew Hobbs is our Director of Research. He is responsible for overseeing our ambitious research strategy, and making sure that only research with the best chance of making a difference for men is funded. Matthew leads our research team: ensuring that we are fully informed about prostate cancer research happening around the world, identifying and investing in areas of the highest strategic importance.

He is also an elected Trustee of the National Cancer Research Institute.

Why is what you do so important?

Over the past 25 years, Prostate Cancer UK have stood with and alongside men. We’ve invested over £65 million in research, to transform our understanding of the disease. Our research has initiated and accelerated some of the biggest breakthroughs in prostate cancer care over the last two decades – from the use of multiparametric MRI to improve diagnosis, to the world’s first precision medicine for prostate cancer.

But we still have work to do. Prostate cancer kills one man every 45 minutes, and harms thousands of men and their families each year.

To help tackle this, we focus on three main areas of research:

1. Better diagnosis

We want to increase the proportion of men whose cancer is caught before it’s spread, and diagnose it accurately, so they can be given the best treatments from the start.

In particular, we want to support research that generates the evidence that will be needed to develop and implement a screening programme for prostate cancer. One that will help catch all men’s disease early and accurately, to give them the best chance of a cure.

2. Better treatment of localised disease

Current treatments for localised prostate cancer still cause significant harm from side effects and are not always effective at stopping the disease. Although we’ve made huge progress in the last decade, more still needs to be done, and we aim to fund the best ideas from across the research spectrum to transform treatment of localised prostate cancer: to cure more men and reduce harmful side effects that reduce the quality of life for men living with this disease.

3. Better treatment of advanced prostate cancer

Metastatic prostate cancer is incurable, but we have treatments that, for some men, can successfully stop it growing and spreading for many years. However, we still lack fundamental knowledge about the disease at this stage and it is a priority area of research to close those knowledge gaps, develop new ways to treat lethal disease, understand and prevent treatment resistance and drive towards a more precise, more effective, more personalised treatment paradigm for men who reach this state.

Ultimately, we wish to extend the lives of men with metastatic prostate cancer to give them more time, with good quality of life, to enjoy with their friends and families.

What impact could Our Future Health have on detecting, preventing and treating prostate cancer?

Our Future Health could be revolutionary for prostate cancer. Simply by being part of the campaign, we hope to raise awareness of the disease among the general public, but even more important is the data a study like this will produce.

Across almost all diseases an early diagnosis makes it more likely that that disease can be cured or successfully treated, and this is certainly true of prostate cancer. Every year in the UK over 9,500 men are diagnosed late, with prostate cancer that has already become advanced, but current tests simply aren’t good enough to be used in a screening programme. That’s why it’s vital that we transform diagnosis of the disease as quickly as possible.

Prostate Cancer UK is leading the drive to fund research to achieve that transformation and it is very clear that Our Future Health gives us opportunities to move at a pace and a scale that would have previously been unimaginable.

By working together, we will deliver earlier diagnosis across a range of diseases much sooner. This could have huge positive implications for the health of people across the UK and we are extremely supportive of the programme.

With 5 million people taking part, we will have access to a huge, reliable pool of data which could help us drive our future research. By following the cohort over such a long period of time, we hope to be able to learn much more about how men are diagnosed and treated with prostate cancer.

In particular, we know that there is a big genetic element to prostate cancer that isn’t very well understood. By screening men for their polygenic risk Our Future Health could help us work out which men are at higher risk and why. All this will be invaluable in helping to inform our future research. We hope to work alongside Our Future Health and use this data to help us deliver the improvements in diagnosis that men urgently need.

By aligning with this impressive research programme, we could massively speed up this change as we work towards identifying a viable strategy for a UK-wide screening programme which could help save thousands of lives each year.

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