Wales is one of the worst affected regions in the UK for late prostate cancer referrals and diagnosis, according to Prostate Cancer UK. In Wales, one in every five men with the disease is diagnosed too late for a cure. In London, that figure is one in eight. Older men, black men and men with a family history of the disease are at even higher risk.
Prostate Cancer UK has funded the project at Swansea University, as part of the charity’s Research Innovation Awards (RIAs), a £3m investment across seven UK institutions in the latest advancements to defeat prostate cancer.
It is hoped it could lead to more effective testing and earlier diagnoses as it often is asymptomatic at first.
Dr Jason Webber has received more than £400,000 for research to create a new type of non-invasive blood test.
The project will investigate specific sugars found in the bloodstream of men with prostate cancer that could be used in tests to determine a man’s risk of developing the disease, and how likely it is to spread.
When prostate cancer spreads beyond the prostate, it becomes incurable.
Dr Webber said it could help cut out invasive tests.
“The blood sugars we’re focusing on aren’t the same as the sugar, or glucose, we consume in food and drinks. These sugars are found on the surface of ‘extracellular vesicles’, small packages released by prostate cancer cells into the bloodstream, which trick and invade healthy cells, spreading cancer around the body,” he said.
“Early diagnosis is key to treating prostate cancer and it is certainly one of the things that has become more apparently over recent years.”