New research

Help with treatment

In a Radio 4 broadcast, Mark Porter reported on two landmark trials assessing when and how to treat prostate cancer (Jun ’17. Download or listen here.

New way to kill cancer cells claimed

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

Vaccine ‘brings new hope’

New vaccine brings hope to prostate cancer patients, a US symposium was told. The compound, called Provenge, primes the immune system to recognise and kill cancer cells that have spread throughout the body (Aug ’17). 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

Vaccine on trial

A new vaccine developed in the US to help prevent the recurrence of prostate cancer is being trialled to boost the immune system, it was reported in April 2015. Professor Raj Persad, of the Bristol Urological Institute, said the idea was an “excellent strategy” and the research looked very promising.

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 (the IMPACT Study – Identification of Men with a genetic predisposition to prostate cancer and their clinical treatment), in 18 countries.

Prostate cancer genetic code mapped

In February 2011, scientists at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University announced that they had mapped the genetic code of prostate cancer. By sequencing the genomes of seven  tumours and comparing them with healthy tissue they believe they have uncovered the mutations and genetic damage that drive prostate cancer.

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

Aspirin evidence ‘weak’

Oncologist Mark Buyyounouski has found an association between taking aspirin and a lower risk of some cancers or cancer-related death, but says the evidence is too weak to suggest that men start taking the drug for cancer. It can cause serious side effects: ulcers and bleeding.

Viagra could shrink tumours!

Lab tests on cells and mice found that when the anti-impotence drug was combined with powerful chemotherapy it not only reduced the size of tumours but also protected the heart. Doxorubicin is a chemotherapy drug that works by triggering cancer cells to commit suicide but its use is linked with irreversible heart damage – often occurring years later. Professor Rakesh Kukreja and colleagues say they have shown Viagra enhances the drug’s anti-tumour qualities in prostate cancer while simultaneously alleviating heart damage. Prof Kukreja, of Virginia Commonwealth University, said he was excited about the potential impact of the work and was keen to test it in cancer patients.

How broccoli fights cancer

Broccoli has been hailed as a ‘superfood’ after several studies suggested it had anti-cancer properties. Scientists at the Institute of Food Research at the Norwich Research Park identified a chemical in the vegetable, called sulforaphane, which interacts with genes involved in cancer development. The chemical seems to counteract a fault with the gene called PTEN, which is involved in prostate cancer. The study was conducted by a team using prostate tissue from men and cancerous cells from mice.