PROFILE: delving into the genetics of prostate cancer risk

What you need to know

  • It is known genetics play a part in the risk of developing prostate cancer, but the exact genes at play have been largely unknown.
  • In this clinical trial, the researchers want to find out if knowing more about certain genetic features can improve prostate cancer diagnosis for men with a higher risk of the disease, including black men and men with a family history of the disease.
  • PROFILE is based at The Institute of Cancer Research London, and linked to our London Centre of Excellence, funded in partnership with Movember, which is dedicated to understanding how each man’s cancer is as unique as he is, and developing precise treatments and diagnostic tools in line with this.
We are using the latest developments in genetic characterisation of prostate cancer to test targeted screening for men who are most likely to develop aggressive disease.
Professor Johann de Bono, director of the London Movember Centre of excellence

What they want to find out

It’s known there is a genetic component to prostate cancer, and that men who are black, or who have a family history of the disease (like a father, brother, uncle or grandfather with prostate cancer) are more likely to get the disease themselves. Some of these cases are also more likely to get prostate cancer that requires treatment, instead of cancer that can be watched on active surveillance without having immediate treatment.

A few genetic changes, like a mutation in a gene called BRCA2, are found in a small population of men and are known to have a big contribution to their genetic risk of prostate cancer. But for most men, it’s that not simple, and it’s thought there are many genetic changes that have a small individual effect, but add up to give a significant risk of developing prostate cancer.

Professor Ros Eeles and her team have helped identify over 160 of these genetic features, which contribute to the genetic risk of prostate cancer. In this study, they want to test whether these genetic features can be used as a way to spot which men should be prioritised for prostate cancer screening. This should help men with cancer that needs urgent treatment get diagnosed sooner, while others can avoid unnecessary treatments. The study will also help the researchers understand the role of genetics in developing prostate cancer.

How they’re going about it

The team have already conducted a small-scale (pilot) version of this study. They assessed if men would be willing to undergo more intensive prostate screening and took samples for genetic analysis . 

The team is now conducting a larger-scale study, called PROFILE. They’re recruiting healthy men with a family history of prostate cancer, and healthy African/Caribbean men aged 40-69. The trial team will take blood and tissue samples to collect genetic information about the men. They’ll then monitor the men for development of the disease over five years, using PSA testing. Men can also choose to undergo an MRI scan and prostate biopsy. They will assess whether men with certain genetic features are more likely to develop prostate cancer that requires treatment, and so may benefit from additional prostate cancer screening.

How to get involved with this trial

The study is still recruiting men with a family history of the disease as well as men of black African/black African-Caribbean ancestry to take part. You can read the information below to see if you may be suitable to take part in this study, and contact your GP for full details on whether you can take part.

If you’d like support with deciding whether taking part in a clinical trial is right for you, you can speak to your GP or contact our Specialist Nurses on 0800 074 8383.

Who can take part

You may be eligible to take part in this study if you:

  • Are aged 40 to 69 years.
  • Be of either:
  • Any ethnicity and you have a family history of prostate cancer, defined as having either of the following situations:
    • Having a father, brother or son who was diagnosed with prostate cancer under the age of 70.
    • Having 2 relatives on the same side of the family, diagnosed with prostate cancer, whereby at least one of them was diagnosed below the age of 70.
    • Having 3 relatives on the same side of the family diagnosed with prostate cancer at any age.
  • Of Black African or Black African-Caribbean ancestry, defined as both parents and all four grandparents being either Black African or Black African-Caribbean.
  • Any Ethnicity with a change in your DNA (mutation), making you at an increased rick of having prostate cancer.

Who can’t take part

You would not be eligible to take part if you:

  • Have a previous cancer with a life expectancy of less than five years
  • Have had prostate cancer previously or currently
  • Are unable to have an MRI scan
  • Had a biopsy in the last 12 months.
  • Are taking some medications such as blood thinning medication (e.g. warfarin) which would put you at more risk if you were to have a biopsy.
  • Have a body mass index (BMI) that is 40 or above.

For full inclusion and exclusion criteria speak to your GP.

Where the trial is taking place

  • The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation, (Sutton & London)
  • Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford
  • Manchester University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester
  • St George's University Hospitals London
  • The Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, Brighton
  • University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, Bristol
  • Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge
  • Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust, Camberley
  • London Northwest University Healthcare NHS Trust, Harrow
  • Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, Exeter
  • University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust, Stoke-on-Trent

We try to keep this information as up to date as possible, but there may be times when study details have changed and we haven’t updated our web information. Speak to your medical team, or our Specialist Nurses, for the most up to date information on prostate cancer clinical studies.

Grant information

Reference - CEO13_2-002
Researcher - 
Professor Ros Eeles
Institution – Institute of Cancer Research, London 
Award – Part of the Movember Centre of Excellence, awarded £5,204,881

Movember And Prostate Cancer UK 800X448