Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK – each year more than 40,000 men are diagnosed with the disease. It causes around 11,000 deaths a year.

Although some prostate cancer is aggressive and can cause death, the majority of prostate cancers are unlikely to cause harm during a man’s lifetime. Over the last 10 years there has been an increase in the number of men diagnosed with prostate cancer, but the number who die from prostate cancer has remained constant. We believe this demonstrates more men with low-risk cancer are being diagnosed and treated without receiving any survival benefit.

Pelican believes that too many men are not accurately diagnosed for prostate cancer. Our focus is on developing precise diagnostic and treatment options that, where possible, enable men to retain their quality of life (sexual, bowel and urinary function).

Men, of any age, who notice a change in their urinary habits should seek medical advice.  In most instances they will be offered a PSA blood test - Prostate Specific Antigen.  It is important to seek advice and then follow the best treatment path - if possible seek an MRI BEFORE having a biopsy.

Pelican Cancer Foundation aims to improve the lives of those with prostate cancer by achieving precise diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Pelican championed the use of MRI for planning all lower bowel cancer surgery to achieve the best possible result for the patient. We believe we are now in a similar situation with prostate cancer. The diagnostic use of MRI before biopsy may help some with prostate cancer avoid unnecessary treatment altogether, and could enable others to benefit from more precise, nerve-sparing focal therapy.

Pelican has been working closely with Professor Mark Emberton, Dr Hashim Uddin Ahmed and researchers at University College London to investigate options for more precise treatment, such as focal therapy - minimizing the damage caused by traditional radical surgery or radiotherapy. Pelican has sponsored research into High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU), to see if it can provide a ‘middle ground’ between radical treatment and watchful waiting (active surveillance), for those with low and medium risk prostate cancer.

  • Pelican has blazed the trail in proving that MRI can be used to detect significant prostate cancer.
  • Our early funding for research into this use of MRI has already led to changes in clinical practice and seeded further valuable research. No one believed MRI could provide a realistic prognosis for prostate cancer but our work has led the way in this novel field. The Pelican research grant has directly led to a £3 million government-backed PROMIS Study (Prostate MRI Imaging Study) has developed from research initiated by Pelican and discussed at Pelican’s 2008 Prostate Colloquium. To read more about PROMIS, click here.
  • Pelican has supported the first full research into focal therapies for prostate cancer; this has already translated into helping some prostate cancer patients avoid more radical unnecessary treatment.
  • Researchers at UCL and clinicians at UCLH, backed by funding from the Pelican Cancer Foundation and other partners, have successfully used High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) for treating prostate cancer. The results showed significantly reduced harmful side effects and positive results in terms of cancer control.
  • In 2015 the UCLH Prostate Cancer Team won the BMJ Innovation Team of the Year award, with much of their innovation having been supported with seed funding from Pelican.

The current situation:

  • Too many men are over-diagnosed and over-treated for prostate cancer and yet too many men are under-diagnosed.

Our priority is to find:

  • More precise detection and treatment options for patients – we believe that this will be with the use of MRI.
  • More precise treatment options for men with low to medium risk prostate cancer – avoiding the harmful side-effects of radical treatment.
  • Supporting research into focal therapies.

Our aim: Better planning for precision treatment.

Pelican’s ambition is to ensure the most effective treatment for each individual with prostate cancer, while preserving quality of life where possible.

We aim to refine treatment options so that every person with prostate cancer is given the best possible chance of living well, for longer. One of our biggest challenges today is to raise funds for our programme of work.