What do Star Wars, NASA and prostate cancer risk have in common? Well, they all feature in CEO Owen Sharp's latest blog. We've brought together 14 experts from across the world to try and turn science fiction into science fact and help us find a way of assessing the personal prostate cancer risk of every man.

17 Dec 2014

I watched the new Star Wars trailer the other day and it got me thinking that science fiction is getting ever closer to reality. Maybe not Wookies or lightsabers (much to every little boy’s – or even grown man’s – disappointment). But back when Star Wars was first released, who could have imagined that today NASA would be getting ready to send people to Mars in the next 15 years or so?

We’re ready to make leaps that big in prostate cancer research too. Sure, we’re not planning to explore a galaxy far, far away, but we don’t need to. The men and women who can turn science fiction into science fact are right here, right now. In our biggest meeting room.

We’ve got fourteen of the world’s leading experts in prostate cancer risk from the UK, Scandinavia, Europe, the United States and Canada sitting in our office right now.

At the moment, a man can’t walk into his GP’s surgery and find out his personal risk of developing prostate cancer. We need a reliable, widely applicable, easy way to assess a man’s individual risk. Because without it, we won’t be able to develop screening, monitoring and treatment regimes that will help men at low risk avoid unnecessary biopsies, while making sure we catch and treat aggressive prostate cancer early in high risk men.

That’s a big deal, and bringing these experts together today is our own small step that we hope will become a giant leap for Men United. So in that room are experts who have developed the sort of risk assessment tool we’re after in other countries. They are joined by people who know the ins and outs of the UK healthcare system and people who understand the particular issues at play within the UK population that need to be considered for this project to work. These are the people who can crack the risk issue for men in the UK.

This is the first time we’ve developed a research project this way. It’s new, it’s bold and it’s big. But we know what questions need to be answered and we know who can answer them, so we’re going all-out to make it happen.

This group of experts will be here, working closely together, for two days. They’ll talk about what’s working in other countries, which aspects of this are likely to work in the UK too, and what the stumbling blocks to success might be. Then they’ll develop a research programme to answer the detailed list of questions we’ve challenged them with.

By the end of tomorrow we are aiming to have a research project that we can get in place as soon as possible. But even if we don’t, we’ll have a clear idea of what’s going on around the world, and what needs to change for this to happen in the UK.

We’re giving ourselves the best possible shot at revolutionising how we work out a man’s individual risk of developing prostate cancer. And that’s not science fiction.

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