In this guest blog, Ali Cooper, Senior Research Analyst in our Policy & Evidence team reports from the third Global Congress on Prostate Cancer.

1 Apr 2015

“In early February I escaped the office for a few days to head to the third Global Congress on Prostate Cancer in Rome with our Health Information Manager, Jocelyne. We joined over 500 delegates, mainly urologists and medical oncologists, from 55 countries.

“The conference was in an old hospital just down the road from the Vatican. We were there to present results from work by our Evidence Team on the lifetime risk of prostate cancer by ethnic group. And the conference was also a good opportunity to build our reputation internationally – we did spot one of the speakers wearing our ‘Man of Men’ badge!

“My first job was to display our results alongside all the other research from around the world. This was a great opportunity to share our work more widely with the health professional community – many of whom are talking to men at risk of, or living with, prostate cancer every day.

“We were highlighting the hugely important statistic that 1 in 4 Black men in the UK will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lives  - double the overall 1 in 8 risk faced by all men. This statistic has received wide coverage in the UK, including being the headline message of NHS England’s pilot Be Clear on Cancer – Prostate Cancer awareness campaign which took place in six London boroughs at the end of last year. But we wanted to share our findings internationally and build up the picture with some new stats we’d calculated: that white men have the same risk of being diagnosed as all men – 1 in 8, while Asian men face odds of 1 in 12.

“During the rest of the conference, we heard some really exciting talks on prostate cancer research. Some of the highlights were:

  1. An update on how cancer genetics can tell us why some men are resistant to treatments such as abiraterone and enzalutamide, and a discussion about how this knowledge will help guide treatment decisions in the future.
  2. A discussion about the potential to use drugs for metastatic prostate cancer (cancer that has spread to other parts of the body) earlier in the treatment pathway, before the cancer has spread.
  3. Some evidence that using chemotherapy earlier on in the treatment pathway – at the same time as hormone therapy – means men live longer than if they have these treatments one after the other.
  4. A summary of the growing list of new biomarkers used to diagnose prostate cancer or predict cancer aggressiveness in men who already have prostate cancer.

“All of these areas still need more research but it was really useful to hear an update on the progress of the research, and to get a bit of a heads up about when to expect the clinical trial results – really useful information, that’s often hard to find out unless we attend these kind of conferences!

“Perhaps even more exciting, the workshops and interactive sessions had voting handsets, like in ‘Who wants to be a millionaire?’ to ‘ask the audience’ what they thought. What more could you want? Well we did manage to squeeze in pizza, pasta and a bit of sight-seeing in the evenings! Overall we left tired, but happy.

“And just because I can’t resist the opportunity for a good stat, I have to give you a picture of the conference in numbers:

•    2.5 days
•    3 important statistics about lifetime risk by ethnicity
•    20 hours of talks
•    500 doctors and scientists from around the world
•    And too many espressos to count.”

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