Custom Search 1

Black men urged to attend prostate cancer trials

STRONGER KNOWING MORE: Several high profile black celebs took part in a prostate cancer awareness campaign

AFRICAN CARIBBEAN men are being urged to participate in more prostate cancer research studies to help doctors develop more targeted treatments.

The call by a leading cancer researcher follows a breakthrough in blood testing, which could enable doctors to predict which sufferers of advanced prostate cancer will respond to new targeted treatments.

The new blood test was developed by a team at The Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.

During trials, researchers were able to detect tumour DNA in men’s blood and pick out cancers with multiple copies of the androgen receptor gene, which many prostate cancers rely on to grow.

Men with multiple copies of the gene responded much less well than otherwise to the targeted therapies abiraterone and enzalutamide – now standard treatment for advanced prostate cancer.
According to the research team, these men could be spared treatments that are unlikely to work for them, and doctors could offer them alternative options instead.

Dr Gerhardt Attard, team leader in the Centre for Evolution and Cancer at the Institute for Cancer Research believes the break-through will have positive effects on the large numbers of black prostate cancer sufferers.

However, he said that more men of African Caribbean origin were needed to take part in clinical trials so that the tests could be developed further.

Dr Attard told The Voice: “Unfortunately only a small number of black males took part in our study, despite it taking place across the UK and overseas in Spain and Italy, so it’s difficult to comment on the potential impact of this new test on these patients alone.

“But with one in four black men likely to get prostate cancer in their lifetime, we would hope this new test helps those with more advanced disease to receive more targeted treatment, which should mean better outcomes and quality of life.

He continued: “The research community recognises that prostate cancer has been understudied in black males, despite how common the condition is, and we need to improve that. Not enough black men are involved in prostate cancer research and we would like more to volunteer for studies.”

Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Prostate Cancer UK also believes the new findings could improve the health care of advanced sufferers.

He said: “A man with incurable prostate cancer does not have time to waste taking drugs that will not work for him. To stop prostate cancer from being a killer, we need to move away from a one-size-fits-all approach to treatment.

“This test could be a significant step towards that and we’ll be watching its development very closely. Thanks to our supporters, we are ramping up investment in prostate cancer research to get the right drug for the right man at the right time.”

The test will have to be assessed further in clinical trials, but they say it costs less than £50 and could be used in clinical practice to personalise treatment.

Professor Paul Workman, Chief Executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said: “Drug resistance is the single biggest obstacle we face in treating cancer. We need to be able to assess a patient’s disease individually so we know which therapies have the best chance of success, and which are unlikely to be effective.
“The test our researchers have developed is exactly what we need to tailor therapy to individual patients, so we can offer patients the treatment that is most likely to work for them. It’s an important step towards further personalisation of cancer treatment.”

One in four black men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime – double the risk faced by all men, which is one in eight. Yet, only 14 per cent of black men are aware of their higher risk.

Earlier this year, Prostate Cancer UK launched a campaign called Stronger Knowing More, to make sure that black men know their risk – and what to do about it.

The charity has teamed up with legendary British photographer Dennis Morris and has received support from a mix of famous faces – including boxer David Haye and poet and writer Benjamin Zephaniah – as well as men directly affected by prostate cancer, who are fronting the campaign.

Legendary black stars from the worlds of sport, politics and the arts have joined forces in a show of strength against the most common cancer in black men. The celebrities are calling on black communities to confront their increased risk of prostate cancer, and break down longstanding taboos that prevent men from speaking out about the disease.

Read every story in our hardcopy newspaper for free by downloading the app.

Facebook Comments