Around the world this month, men are relinquishing their razors and allowing their facial hair to flourish.
For November, a charity known as Movember raises funds and awareness for men’s health. From suicide prevention and mental health to prostate and testicular cancer, they are fighting back against the leading causes of death in men worldwide.
Men are joining the cause by growing their moustaches to encourage friends and family to donate to their campaign.
More than 40,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year in England. Testicular cancer is a rarer form of cancer, affecting around 2,300 men each year in the UK.
It is essential to know the signs and symptoms of these cancers and speak to your doctor about early detection.
Unfortunately, most men with early prostate cancer don’t have any symptoms. Sometimes this is due to where cancer starts growing on the prostate. Usually, it starts to grow on the outer part of the prostate, which doesn’t tend to cause any discomfort.
Prostate Cancer UK recommends you speak to your GP about prostate cancer if:
- • You are aged 50 or over – the risk of prostate cancer increases as you get older.
- • Your father or brother has had prostate cancer – If your father or brother has had prostate cancer, you may be at higher risk of prostate cancer.
- • If you are of black ethnicity – Black men are more at risk of prostate cancer.
Is there an early detection test for prostate cancer?
The primary method for detecting prostate cancer is a PSA test. It is a simple blood test that determines the measurement of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) concentration in the blood. A raised PSA level in your blood may be a sign of prostate cancer. But the test isn’t perfect; around 3 in 4 men with an increased PSA level will not have cancer.
Which is why PanTum Detect, our early detection cancer blood test, could be a crucial step in enabling doctors to catch more cases of prostate cancer early on.
A PanTum Detect test alongside the PSA test could give patients and clinicians more information to decide the next steps forward.
Are there effective treatments for prostate cancer?
When doctors identify a case of prostate cancer, there are multiple treatment plans available. Many patients are treated with drugs that lower or block hormones that fuel tumour growth. Initially, these treatments are effective. But, as Professor Nupam Mahajan, of Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, said:
“Most patients start developing resistance, and the drugs usually stop working after a year or two. At that point, the options available are very limited.”
Researchers worldwide have been developing new treatment options that work against the build-up of resistance from cancer cells.
A biotech startup company, TechnoGenesys, recently revealed the start of a new treatment option.
A ‘super molecule’
Their scientists discovered a unique protein that could halt the growth of prostate cancer entirely. During experimentation, a ‘super molecule’ could shrink human tumours implanted in mice.
Scientists found that prostate cancers learn how to suppress this ‘super molecule,’ known as an RNA molecule, allowing cancer cells to grow easily.
Restoring the RNA molecule could be a promising option for patients who have developed a resistance to other treatments.
Scientists named the RNA molecule NXTAR (next to androgen receptor) because they discovered it in a section of the DNA beside the androgen receptor.
The androgen receptor is the key protein that encourages a prostate tumour to grow.
Prof Mahajan explains:
“In prostate cancer, the androgen receptor is very clever. Our research shows it suppresses its own suppressor. Essentially it binds to NXTAR and shuts it down.
“This means in all the prostate cancer samples we study, we rarely find NXTAR, because it is suppressed by the heavy presence of the androgen receptor in these types of tumours.
“We discovered NXTAR by using a drug that my lab developed that suppresses the androgen receptor. When the androgen receptor is suppressed, NXTAR starts to appear. When we saw this, we suspected we had discovered a tumour suppressor.”
Scientists are now strategizing on how to turn this research into successful cancer treatment. Hopefully, this will become the new gold standard for treating prostate cancer and help save countless lives.
Early detection is key
Catching prostate cancer in its early stages gives patients the best chance to make a full recovery.
To help enable earlier detection, we are working hard to make our PanTum Detect test available in the UK. We are currently discussing potential partnerships with labs and clinics around the UK.
PanTum Detect can detect all cancers via a simple blood test, making it affordable and accessible for a primary care setting.
If you would like to partner with RMDM or find out more about PanTum Detect, please get in touch via our contact form.