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Prostate cancer research

Prostate cancer is the most common male cancer in the UK with almost 41,000 men diagnosed with the disease each year.

As the ICR's dedicated male cancer appeal, Everyman helps to fund a comprehensive programme of research with a particular focus on understanding the genetics of the disease, developing new drugs for patients with advanced prostate cancer and improving radiotherapy techniques.

Genetics

Defects in our genes can lead to the development of cancer. ICR scientists have already identified more cancer-linked genes than any other organisation in the world, and today we are leading a global effort to find faulty genes that can increase men’s risk of developing prostate cancer. Armed with this information, scientists will be able to identify and monitor those men at higher risk of disease and develop cancer prevention strategies. Faulty genes could also become targets for new treatments.

Developing new medicines

Research teams at the ICR are developing new-generation drugs to improve the treatment of patients with advanced prostate cancer. These therapies differ from traditional treatments such as chemotherapy in that they are designed to act only on cancer cells and minimise damage to healthy cells.

Recent successes include the development of abiraterone, a new type of hormone treatment for patients with advanced prostate cancer. Abiraterone was discovered, developed and tested by the ICR and its partner The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust. It is now routinely available for eligible patients on the NHS having been proven to be able to significantly reduce symptoms and increase life expectancy.

Over the past two years, the ICR and The Royal Marsden have also jointly led the patient trials of three further prostate cancer drugs that have been shown to extend life for men with late-stage disease.

Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy remains a major weapon in the fight against cancer and still cures more patients than cancer drugs do. It is particularly widely used in the treatment of prostate cancer. Over recent years, major technological advances have already been made in the delivery of radiotherapy, many of them pioneered by the ICR. Our scientists are continuing their work to further develop the technique for the benefit of cancer patients. This includes better targeting of the tumour with the radiotherapy beam to spare healthy tissue and avoid side-effects, working out the most effective dosages and learning how to combine radiotherapy with other treatments to more efficiently kill off the prostate cancer cells.

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