The UK government has announced it will allocate £75 million to clinical trials aimed at boosting early diagnoses of prostate cancer and exploring new treatments. As the most common cancer in men, with 129 cases diagnosed each day, the funding is an important step in battling this often “hidden” disease.
One of the problems is the fact that prostate cancer is often only diagnosed in its advanced stages when it starts to cause urinary issues. Cancer that is confined to the prostate generally doesn’t display symptoms at all. This is why some of the funding is being allocated to helping achieve early diagnosis.
There is also a need to ensure that men understand their risk of developing the disease. Men over 50, those with a family history of the disease, and black men have a higher risk and will be targeted by the clinical trials.
For men diagnosed with prostate cancer, there is a range of treatment options available. The least intrusive option is surveillance, or what is called “watchful waiting”. Prostate cancer grows slowly and may not cause symptoms or problems during a man’s lifetime.
However, when more aggressive treatments are required, options include surgery, hormone therapy, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. As with any cancer, the treatment is tailored to the individual, and combinations of treatments are often used.
Development of new treatments
The funding pledged by the government will be partly used to explore new treatments for men affected by the disease. All new drugs must go through stringent clinical trials before they are approved to treat patients. The process that can take many years and cost in excess of £1 billion.
Before trialling a new drug on people diagnosed with the disease, the first stage involving humans is to test the drug in small doses on healthy volunteers to see how the body reacts. Volunteers who want to help can sign up to take part in paid medical trials, such as those run by http://www.trials4us.co.uk/.
It is hoped that 40,000 men will now be recruited to clinical trials aimed at early diagnosis, higher survival rates and more effective treatments. With around one in eight UK men expected to develop prostate cancer at some point in their lives, the announcement of a £75 million funding boost is certainly a welcome development.