Research latest

NEW: Bid to save sexual potency

A technique is being trialled in London to reduce the risk of men losing their sexual potency from prostate cancer surgery. The next stage, due to start in January ’19, is to secure funding to recruit up to 400 patients and expand the trial to Bristol and Sheffield. See

‘Virtual tumour’ new way to see cancer

Scientists in Cambridge have built a virtual reality 3D model of cancer, providing a new way to look at the disease (Dec ’18).

Stampede trial a success

Radiotherapy could extend thousands of lives, the Stampede study found. The trial, based at the Medical Research Council’s clinical trials unit at University College London, dealt with men with locally-advanced cancer (Oct ’18). See

Drug beats aggressive cancer

Men with aggressive drug-resistant prostate cancer could see their tumours eradicated by a new treatment using a drug called pembrolizumab, which is already used in lung cancer treatment (Sept ’18). See

Two trials ‘destroy cancer’

Drug gets body cells to ‘eat and destroy’ cancer. The US team behind the study hope to begin human trials within a few years. See. And US researchers have found a way to clear cancer in mice with immune-system stimulating injections. A report in the Science Translational Medicine Journal shows promise in terms of destroying tumours. The new approach is a form of immunotherapy. See.

Radiotherapy visit cut

Men diagnosed with prostate cancer may potentially benefit form ‘radical radiotherapy’ that delivers treatment in five visits, a clinical trial led by researchers from Queen’s University Belfast has shown. Usually, 37 visits are necessary for the course of radiotherapy, however this trial used an advanced treatment called ‘SABR’ (Stereotactic Ablative Body Radiotherapy), which uses high doses per treatment and is highly accurate in targeting certain cancers (Aug ’18). See

New metastatic PCa method demonstrated

A new method for detection and visualisation of metastatic prostate cancer not previously visible with conventional and molecular imaging techniques is demonstrated (Aug ’18) on YouTube here

Aggressive cancer breakthrough

US scientists have mapped out the DNA sequences of over 100 types of aggressive prostate cancer tumours. Some of the more aggressive ones are usually able to evade hormone treatment but the new findings help isolate the genetic mutations they carry which let them do this (July ’18). See

New imaging method revealed

A new prostate cancer imaging method — PSMA-PET — for detecting sites of prostate cancer recurrence was reported at the 2018 American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting. The results from a study will be submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration, and may result in approval of this new imaging method in the near future (Jun ’18).

Prostate surgery set to be revolutionised

Tiny remote-controlled ‘scalpels’ could revolutionise cancer surgery in five to 10 years. The first disease it is hoped to target is prostate cancer. The technique, researched at University College London, would be safer and less invasive than present methods. It combines the use of an MRI scanner and a tiny metal ball which is steered to to the tumour using the scanner’s magnetic field. Once, there, radio waves heat it up to destroy the cancer (Jun ’18).

Blood research aids cancer fight

A UK team has been able to scour the blood for signs of cancer while it was just a tiny cluster of cells invisible to X-ray or CT scans. It should allow doctors to hit the tumour earlier and increase the chances of a cure (Apr ’18). See. And US scientists have taken a step towards one of the biggest goals in medicine – a universal blood test for cancer (Apr ’18). See. Scientists have also created a skin implant they say could one day be used to help detect some of the most common cancers (Apr ’18). See. And a test that can detect trace levels of tumour cells in the blood could help spot early signs of treatment not working for men on abiraterone for advanced prostate cancer (Jul ’18). See

Two big breakthroughs

The biggest leap in diagnosing prostate cancer “in decades” has been made using new advanced MRI scanners. See. Also this. But only a third of men can benefit, says Prostate Cancer UK. See. And a prostate cancer vaccine is among trailblazing research being backed by the charity with £2.7m. See. A US study found a link between brisk walking and lowered risk of prostate cancer progression. See.

Tumour aggressive or harmless?

A genetic breakthrough could spare thousands of men from needless prostate surgery and radiotherapy. Scientists have found a gene that determines whether a tumour is aggressive or relatively harmless – potentially paving the way for a blood test that will accurately forecast whether it could become deadly. (Sept ’18). See

Drug ‘lengthens life’

Good results are reported for the drug Apalutamide, which is under development for prostate cancer treatment. A US study found it lengthened life of men with castration-resistant cancer that had not spread (Feb ’18). See

Brisk walking ‘lowers risk’

A US study found a link between brisk walking and lowered risk of prostate cancer progression. See.

New way to kill cancer cells claimed

Scientists say a new method of killing cancer cells might yield a much more effective treatment. See

Prostate cancer subtypes identified

Researchers have identified and validated three distinct molecular subtypes of prostate cancer that correlate with distant metastasis-free survival. This can help in future research to determine how patients will respond to treatment, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology. Findings represent a step towards the implementation of personalised medicine in prostate cancer care. See

Urine test created

Scientists have created a urine test for prostate cancer after Bristol trials. See

Cancer and genes

There is strong evidence that certain men’s genes predispose them to prostate cancer. This has led to the development of a EU-wide targeted screening study in 18 countries.

Genetic variants which increase risk

The UK Genetic Prostate Cancer Study collects blood DNA samples from over 300 UK centres and is the leading effort to find genetic variants which increase prostate cancer risk. This study will last about another 7 years. It has made considerable advances in discovering genetic variants which have led to targeted treatments.

Tumour-causing genes fused by male hormones

Scientists at the Institute of Cancer at Queen Mary University of London have found that male hormones play a key role in promoting a specific genetic change that fuels tumour growth. Identifying the genes that are regulated by these hormones is a major step forward in finding new therapies. The study focused on male sex hormones called androgens, which cause genes that are normally far apart to fuse together. The team found that androgens promote the fusion of two specific genes which fuel cancer growth.

Early warning proteins discovered

Bristol University researchers have identified two ‘growth factor’ proteins present in higher levels in prostate cancer patients. The proteins normally regulate growth and development in organs and tissue, especially in the womb and during childhood. Dr Mari-Anne Rowlands, a cancer epidemiologist and lead author of the study, said it was too early to be certain but these results suggested they might have identified potential new biomarkers for very early prostate cancer in men with no symptoms. More research was needed.