Hailing his time on the Men United March as the highlight of his Prostate Cancer UK career, our Director of Research, Iain Frame, explains why it's made him even more determined to make a real difference for everyone affected by prostate cancer and how the £300,000+ raised will be invested in cutting-edge research.
Jeff Stelling’s March gave me the opportunity to meet and chat to so many amazing people with amazing stories to tell – many of whom could be directly, and indirectly, affected by the research we fund.
I moved in and out of conversations throughout the day – thinking long and hard about them on my way home – and benefited from the mutual support when it got tough.
The camaraderie was tremendous: thank you to everyone for making the event so special.
But the reason our Men United March spanned 10 days and took in 10 marathon walks wasn’t just as a challenge for Jeff and Russ. The number was chosen to represent our 10-year plan to stop prostate cancer being a killer.
Our aim is to make sure men with aggressive prostate cancer are diagnosed early, before it spreads outside the prostate, so that fewer slip through the net with advanced disease.
We will also work towards better treatments for localised disease, and more effective, well-tolerated treatments for advanced prostate cancer. We feel these outcomes are eminently achievable through a robust and multi-pronged research programme.
And the people who raise money for us, like the 400 walkers on Jeff’s March and the people who sponsored them, allow us to fund innovative research projects to make a step-change in our knowledge of prostate cancer.
The money raised on the march will fund projects like developing a genetic test for aggressive prostate cancer
The money raised on the march will fund projects like Professor Johan De Bono’s at the Institute of Cancer Research. His team are developing a genetic test for aggressive prostate cancer to help assess which men will respond best to a certain treatment.
For example, a recent clinical trial showed nearly 30 per cent of men with advanced prostate cancer responded to the anti-cancer drug olaparib, which only works for men who have a mutation in one of the genes that controls how cells repair broken DNA.
Professor de Bono and his team’s simple genetic test will work out which men have this mutation before they decide to give them olaparib or, if not, would be better off getting a different type of treatment.
Jeff Stelling visits one of our research laboratories in Newcastle
Overall, we think this project will make significant steps towards tailoring prostate cancer treatments towards the individual man and his cancer. It will help work out the best treatment for each man to have – or to avoid – and the right time to have it.
It’s just one of the examples of the work we are funding with the money raised by you, Men United. We don’t have all the answers – we don’t even have all the questions yet. But that shouldn’t stop us trying to achieve the best outcomes for men.
My job is to ensure we focus the money you raise on three key areas we believe can make the biggest difference: prostate cancer diagnosis, treatment and prevention. Our Men United March started in Hartlepool and finished in Wembley, but our march on prostate cancer has only just begun.