Prostate cancer cells

Research FAQs

So much money goes into research - is it really worth it?

Yes, absolutely. Leaving the status quo simply isn't an option when we know 10,000 men a year die as a result of prostate cancer. This will only improve with further research. Everything we already know about prostate cancer is as a result of research done in the past. It is important to continue research and build momentum for the future. Men at risk of prostate cancer or who already have it deserve the benefits of more research funding, which is where we come in. 

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How do you decide which research to fund?

Scientists from laboratories, universities, individual researchers and heads of departments are all looking for funding for their research ideas. All applicants fill in a detailed form, which then goes out to at least two experts in the field for their review and comments. This is where the expression 'peer review' comes from.

Professionals in the same field as the applicant will be able to recognise the best proposals as well as inconsistencies or flaws in applications. They will also be able to judge whether the budget for the project is reasonable. This system of 'peer review' highlights where projects might duplicate work or where a team might have a poor track record - which makes research investment risky. Peer reviewers also help identify projects which are following a line of research which others have already found to be a dead end.

The reviewers' comments are then examined by members of our Research Advisory Committee, who will recommend to Prostate Cancer UK's Board of Trustees which projects should receive funding. Only those projects of the highest quality will receive funding. Indeed, we often experience a common research funding problem - we may not have the funds to support all the high quality projects applied for. 

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Why do charities fund this research? Surely it's the Governments job?

Charities in the UK fund more research than both the NHS and the Government together. As you know, we can't select where our taxes go, so can you imagine how the public would feel if the Government made all the decisions on what to concentrate on in cancer research funding too? Charities are immune from the vagaries of government or changes in political priorities.

Charities offer people the chance to support cancer research in particular ways. People often have personal reasons for supporting the aims of one charity as opposed to another. Besides, it would be naïve of us to stop what we are doing, while we wait for the government and the NHS to fund research because they 'should' be doing it.

Cancer research takes time, money and patience. Promising preliminary findings sometimes fade into dead ends. Sometimes some things work well in the laboratory, but not in the patient. The only way we can find this out is through research and by being brave enough to risk going down the blind alleys, whilst looking for the breakthroughs. Charities and Government and pharmaceutical companies share the risk by all playing their parts in this important task. Charities also have a clear vision and can put patients and their families first and do not need to chase profits or votes. 

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What percentage of your income is received from the UK Government, Scottish Parliament or Welsh Assembly?

Very little. Sometimes none at all. Read our Annual Accounts for full information. Any Government funding we have, we apply for. Governments don't just give it away, even to a charity! We rely almost entirely on voluntary donations and funds raised by the public. To learn more about getting involved please visit the fundraising page. 

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How do we know that your research projects are not being duplicated in other countries?

Our Research Advisory Committee (RAC) is set up to help us avoid this and our system of peer reviewing also helps prevent duplication. The RAC is made up of experienced scientists, who are all experts in their fields and who attend international meetings. They are also in touch with their colleagues in other countries so they are aware of what is happening in their field of research.

Bear in mind duplication of research is not always a bad thing - it can also be necessary to confirm that the first scientist got it right. 

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Wouldn't it be better to concentrate all the resources in one centre with all the researchers together?

No, not for our current research priorities. Sometimes this makes sense if a charity is concentrating on a particular branch of cancer research. We fund a range of research projects, based around our priorities as set out in the Research Strategy.

We strongly encourage researchers to collaborate, but they do not need to work together in the same lab to collaborate. Cancer researchers communicate constantly with each other, both at conferences and over the Internet, in the UK and internationally. Not all researchers are doing the same thing in the same way. Some work in labs, and some work with patients, some study the local community, others large populations so, all of them being in one place wouldn't actually help a great deal.

Prostate Cancer UK believes it is in men's interests to see a diversity of high quality research flourish wherever it is to be found. 

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What is Prostate Cancer UK's position on the use of animals and stem cells in medical research?

Please refer to our Position Statement on the use of animals and stem cells in research for full details on Prostate Cancer UK's stance on these topics.

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