Important prostate cancer clues discussed at national conference

Three new important clues about the treatment and progression of prostate cancer will be unveiled at The Prostate Cancer Charity's National Prostate Cancer Research Conference in London.

Speaking at the Conference, will be Professor Gail Risbridger from the Prostate and Breast Cancer Research Group, Monash University, Australia, who will highlight the success her team is having in piloting a new treatment for men living with the advanced stages of prostate cancer.  Professor Risbridger will explain how the team are taking a novel approach, using the female hormone, oestrogen, to treat the disease when it no longer responds to existing treatments.

Professor Risbridger explains: "Many treatments for prostate cancer focus on blocking the male sex hormone to slow down, or even stop the disease from progressing. We know this approach is not always enough, and this new research shows that oestrogen may also have a part to play in treating the disease. Together with existing treatments, this new approach could be very effective in giving men living with advanced prostate cancer a new treatment option, where treatment options are currently limited."

Also being unveiled at the Conference will be research led by Professor Robert Thomas, at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, which suggests that men who are overweight or smokers, are more likely to experience side effects from treatment, such as urinary incontinence or erectile dysfunction, than their more active counterparts - suggesting that a healthy lifestyle including regular and exercise is key to men making a good recovery from treatments and having a better quality of life.

Professor Thomas, explains: "This research tells us that exercise should be regarded as part of the advice given to men after treatment for prostate cancer. We hope that this evidence will help motivate professionals and health commissioners to expand the National Exercise referral scheme to include men with prostate cancer."

Dr. Yong-Jie Lu and his team at Queen Mary University of London, will also present the results of their research which has uncovered some interesting genetic clues about the origins of prostate cancer in British and Chinese men, as part of their work to understand why men from Asian countries have lower rates of prostate cancer than men living in Western countries.

Using techniques that take a snapshot of all prostate cancer genes in tissues from British and Chinese men, the researchers will show that the PTEN and ERG genes - genes which have been shown to be switched off or altered in many other prostate cancer studies - are more likely to be present in British than Chinese men. Dr. Lu and his team will highlight that these finds are critical in helping to identify some of the key genetic changes in Western men which are far less common in Chinese men, and which could lead to the development of prostate cancer.

Commenting on his findings, Dr. Lu said: "The incidence and mortality rates of prostate cancer can vary dramatically in different countries and our research has revealed some significant genetic differences in prostate cancer between Chinese and Western men. This suggests that other factors, such as diet - which is traditionally different between these two cultures - could contribute to these genetic changes that occur in the development of prostate cancer. We hope that further studies will help to improve our knowledge and ability to prevent and control the growth of prostate cancer in men."

Commenting on the research presented at The Prostate Cancer Charity's National Research Conference, Owen Sharp, Chief Executive, said: "It is extremely encouraging to see so many exciting new research projects being presented today. Traditionally, prostate cancer research has been subject to an ongoing lack of investment, which we are only now beginning to redress. The Prostate Cancer Charity is dedicated to challenging this injustice to ensure that expanding our knowledge of this disease receives its rightful place on the research agenda. It is my hope that investment in prostate cancer research continues to grow so that we can build upon these important foundations to deliver real benefit to men and their families affected by the disease."