Prostrate Cancer Research – how we can make a difference

The work of the prostrate cancer research team, being funded by the Dallaglio Flintoff 2012 Cycle Slam, has just been recognised as global award winners for their work. They are making a difference. By supporting me, you can too.

Last week I noticed some posters relating to the ‘out of the blue’ March 2012 campaign promoting prostrate cancer. This disease is the most common cancer in men, particularly affecting those aged over 50. Often men have no signs or symptoms and little awareness of a disease that kills 10,000 in the UK every year, with over 250,000 men currently living with the prostrate cancer.

The technical aspects of this disease are that only men have a prostate gland, which is usually the size and shape of a walnut. It lies underneath the bladder and surrounds the urethra through which we pass urine and semen. In terms of how the cancer forms, normally the growth of all cells is carefully controlled in the body. As cells die, they are replaced in an orderly fashion with healthy replacements. However, cancer can develop when cells start to grow in an uncontrolled way. The following video explains how to become aware of the symptoms of prostrate cancer.

The current stats are that one in nine men is likely to get prostate cancer, with 36,000  cases diagnosed each year. In terms of the most at risk group, then it mainly affects men over 50. As I reach that milestone this year, this is quite a sobering thought. But the good news is that, for many, prostate cancer is actually slow-growing initially and may never cause any problems or symptoms in a man’s lifetime. You die ‘with it’, rather than ‘of it’. However, some men will have cancer that is more aggressive. This needs timely treatment to help prevent or delay it spreading outside the prostate gland.

For the Dallaglio Flintoff Cycle Slam 2012, the Dallaglio Foundation is choosing to support the Cancer Research UK funded ICGC project on prostate cancer genetics. This important initiative will read the complete genetic codes of 250 prostate cancer patients. The results will mean that scientists can better differentiate between the fast and the slow growing tumours which in turn, will help to build a new era of personalised medicine. Armed with this new genetic blueprint, doctors will be better able to pick out and target those genes that are causing the aggressive types of prostate cancer with new treatments. Ground breaking research, that will hopefully lower future mortality rates.

In the UK, it is the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust who are leading the prostate cancer ICGC project. For me personally, this is very reassuring as back in 1979, when I was just 17, my father was successfully treated for testicular cancer by the team at the Royal Marsden.

The really, really good news is that these research teams have just been recognised by winning a prestigious global award for success in taking new cancer drugs from concept to patients. This is the first time the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Team Science Award has been won outside the US.

Through the Dallaglio Foundation, this is the focus of my own fund-raising activities. How encouraging is it, that through your support, we will be able to invest in such pioneering work of a world leading British research team? They are making a difference, now we can too.

This is what the Cycle Slam is all about.


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