Thousands of men’s lives could be saved after a world first study found new ways to tackle prostate cancer.
Scientists have discovered 80 proteins which trigger prostate cancer and cause it to spread.
The revelation means drugs currently used to treat breast, ovarian and skin cancer could in future be given to prostate cancer patients.
They could be life-saving for the one in seven men who die within a decade of getting prostate cancer.
These men need further treatment beyond radiotherapy, hormone therapy and surgery to remove their prostate gland. Currently there are just seven drugs available to block two proteins which cause prostate cancer.
But the study led by the Institute of Cancer Research in London has now found another 80 proteins which could be stopped with a single daily pill.
Scientists have discovered 80 proteins which trigger prostate cancer and cause it to spread, which means drugs currently used to treat breast, ovarian and skin cancer could in future be given to prostate cancer patients (file photo)
For a quarter of these, drugs may already be available, having been licensed for other cancers or already in clinical trials.
New treatments for prostate cancer could be available in five to ten years, say the authors.
This would provide a new lifeline for more than 7,600 men a year in Britain who die within 10 years of diagnosis. The disease kills more than 11,800 men every year in Britain, and the Daily Mail has campaigned for better treatment since 1999.
An international team of scientists analysed the DNA of 930 men with prostate cancer, and examined the tumours of 112 British cancer patients. The proteins discovered are produced by 73 genetic mutations.
Professor Paul Workman, chief executive of the Institute of Cancer Research, and a co-author of the study, said: ‘This study has uncovered a remarkably large number of new genes that drive the development of prostate cancer, and given us vital information about how to exploit the biology of the disease to find potential new treatments.
‘We hope our findings will stimulate a wave of new research into the genetic changes and potential drug targets we have identified, with the aim that patients should benefit as soon as possible.’
The world’s largest study into the genes behind prostate cancer provides fresh hope. Genetic mutations create faulty proteins which cause cancer in different ways. These proteins trigger cancer by forcing cells to divide too fast, making mistakes as they are copied which lead to tumours.
They can also prevent the body’s natural DNA repair which is vital to stop cancer spreading through the body.
Among the 80 proteins discovered are some suggesting men with prostate cancer could benefit from the same drugs as women with breast and ovarian cancer. The ovarian cancer drug olaprib has already been found to work in prostate cancer patients.
Simon Grieveson, head of research funding at Prostate Cancer UK, said: ‘We currently have a one-size-fits-all approach to treating prostate cancer even though every man’s cancer is unique.
‘By better understanding the genetic make-up of an individual’s cancer, it may be possible to more accurately predict how it will behave and the best way to treat it, creating a more precise approach to treating that man’s prostate cancer.’
More options would help people like me
David Pallass was diagnosed with prostate cancer five years ago
David Pallass, at the age of 57, considers himself to be young and active.
So when he had prostate cancer diagnosed five years ago, he was keen to avoid any drastic treatment that would come with long-term side effects.
For many, a diagnosis means surgery, radiotherapy or hormone treatments – all with risks of life-altering side effects.
Instead, Mr Pallass, of Dronfield, Derbyshire, said he had regular blood tests and scans. He said: ‘The tumour was very small and the chance of it becoming more serious was very low.’
About 18 months ago he had a serious infection linked to his prostate. Even then, surgeons avoided the most radical option – removing his prostate – and instead cut away a section.
He hopes new treatments could provide more options in future alongside radiotherapy and full surgery.
Mr Pallass added: ‘The more they push the prostate cancer research on, the more progress they are making.’