Dr Naomi Elster
Head of Research, Prostate Cancer Research
With so many organisations working towards a better future for cancer patients, it’s vital to target funding to the biggest gaps in the system.
A huge effort is needed to deliver the breakthroughs that will mean no individual will have to fear a cancer diagnosis in the future. With almost 700 cancer research charities in the UK in 2020, we needed to make sure that we were not investing in problems which were already being solved by others, while other, critical research needs slipped through the cracks.
Last November, we released our ecosystem report, the result of an in-depth analysis of the entire prostate cancer research landscape.
Funding science that matters to patients
We discovered that some research areas urgently need more attention. For example, there are unanswered questions around why cancer spreads from the prostate to the bone and patients urgently need these questions answered.
We also realised more needs to be done to consider other common health conditions that many people will experience alongside their prostate cancer. We highlighted these questions to UK scientists during our last funding opportunity. As a result, two new projects have just started, one in Cardiff and one in Newcastle, taking different approaches to understand, block and reverse the spread of cancer to bone.
We launched another project over the summer, based in London, which investigates the difference between prostate cancer in obese and non-obese men, but which will ultimately benefit all, no matter their weight.
While one in eight White men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer that figure jumps to one in four Black men (yet drops to one in 13 for men of other ethnicities).
Taking action to tackle racial injustice
Much of our knowledge of cancer comes from studies which predominantly involved White men. This is a particular problem in prostate cancer because while one in eight White men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer that figure jumps to one in four Black men (yet drops to one in 13 for men of other ethnicities).
It is time to take action to help improve the situation for Black men as research in this area has been neglected. We are now asking researchers to submit proposals addressing both the biological and social reasons that influence a Black man’s risk of developing prostate cancer and how effective his treatment is likely to be. We are also asking for studies which seek to improve our understanding of the fears, perceptions and real-life impact of cancer in the community.
We are committed to doing all we can for patients, families and communities affected by prostate cancer. With more support and partnerships from individuals, donors, and other organisations, we can do even more.