New collaboration between Prostate Cancer UK and the College of Radiographers raises hopes for men with recurrent prostate cancer

Prostate Cancer UK has joined forces with the College of Radiographers (CoR) to award a Clinical Training Fellowship worth over £180,000, thanks to support from the Movember Foundation.  The winning proposal gives hope of eventual focused therapy for men with recurrent (returned) prostate cancer.

One of the main barriers to curative treatment of recurrent prostate cancer is that it can't yet be effectively targeted; all available therapies affect the whole prostate gland - rather than just the part with the cancer - and frequently result in severe side effects that dramatically reduce quality of life.

Currently, radiographic imaging techniques like Computed Tomography (CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) are most commonly used after prostate cancer diagnosis.  Both techniques are used to image the pelvis area, including the prostate, to determine whether the cancer has spread and what the most effective treatment might be. However, these sophisticated imaging techniques have the potential to see the location of the cancer more precisely, which could have an impact on treating recurrent prostate cancer. 

In this highly competitive joint Training Fellowship, Mr James Stirling, the new Fellow and lead research radiographer at the Paul Strickland Scanner Centre, will look at using technology to get over this 'brick wall' we've hit in identifying further treatment for men with recurrent prostate cancer. He will use data obtained from currently available imaging technologies, and analyse it in a new way. 

This advanced technique, called textural analysis, will turn the separate information from each imaging technique into a detailed map of the prostate, showing precisely where the cancerous and normal tissue is. This will allow the researchers to get more precise and detailed information about the extent of cancer within the prostate than has ever been gained before - much more than can be gained by looking at any imaging technique on its own.

This technique could help identify those men likely to benefit from existing treatment and reduce unnecessary therapy and side-effects for men whose prostate cancer poses a lower risk. It could also be used to accurately pinpoint the cancer's location within the prostate, allowing the use of targeted therapies, which would likely also reduce the severity of any side effects.

Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Prostate Cancer UK said, 'We are extremely proud to launch the first Fellowship award under our exciting new partnership with the College of Radiographers. With the support of funds donated by the Movember Foundation we have committed to fund research that will make a difference to men, and this partnership opens up a great way for us to do this - by supporting clinicians who are working on the ground with men with prostate cancer to give them the best possible care and support, both now and in the future. We are extremely grateful to the College of Radiographers for their support and we hope this really sets a good example for how we can work in partnership with other organisations to achieve the best results for men with prostate cancer.'

The preliminary data in this project proposal is extremely encouraging, and we are very much looking forward to the results of this study. 

The next call for Prostate Cancer UK - College of Radiographers Clinical Training Fellowships will open in September 2013.