Scientists win cash to study cancer that kills 10,000 men each year

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RESEARCHERS from Yorkshire have been awarded hundreds of thousands of pounds to examine the causes of a cancer which claims the lives of more than 10,000 men a year.

The cash has been awarded by Prostate Cancer UK as part of an injection of £11m in 2013 in work to understand the risk of the illness and improve its diagnosis and treatment.

Iain Frame, the charity’s director of research, said: “Due to a long legacy of underfunding and neglect we still know shockingly little about why prostate cancer kills 10,000 men every year.

“By funding ground-breaking projects such as these with the UK’s top research scientists we hope to be able to find the answers we so desperately need for the future.”

Experts at York University have been handed £187,000 to find out more about why prostate cancer becomes resistant to treatment.

Anne Collins, who will lead the work, said it was hoped to find out whether the cells which cause the cancer are identical to those which are responsible for their resistance to therapies.

“This will help us develop new treatments which directly target these cells so that we can treat the disease more effectively,” she said.

Prof Tim Skerry, of Sheffield University, has received £50,000 to explore whether affecting the way tumour cells communicate with each other can help stop the spread of the disease.

He said: “We know that communication between cancer cells is essential for prostate tumours to survive and grow. We hope that through exploring how to block these signals, we can eventually lead to the development of treatments which can slow down the growth and spread of the cancer and therefore have dramatic benefits in the prevention of the development of advanced disease.”

A quarter of all new cases of cancer in men are of the prostate, with 41,000 diagnosed in 2010.

Rates have tripled in the past 40 years although much of the increase is due to better detection of the disease.

Three-quarters of cases are diagnosed in men aged over 65 years, who account for nine in 10 deaths.

Around four in five men with the condition live more than five years, up from only three in 10 in the 1970s. But the disease remains the second commonest cause of cancer death in men after lung cancer, claiming 10,700 lives in 2010.