Jack Avery, service user at UCH, Julian Huppert, chair of the All Parliamentary Group on Medical Research, Sue Maridaki, representing St Peters Trust charity
The reception on the lifecycle of medical research featured leading research from around the UK and was held at the House of Commons in July.
The event showcased the UK’s excellent medical research base, including the significant contribution made by medical research charities.
Dr Hashim Uddin Ahmed, MRC Research Registrar in Urology, and the team from UCL Division of Surgery and Interventional Science (which is led by Professor Mark Emberton, UCLH urology consultant and clinical director for cancer services, and funded by St Peter's Trust for Kidney, Bladder & Prostate Research) presented research on a pioneering new form of ultrasound called Histoscanning and state of the art magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in diagnosing prostate cancer.
Dr Ahmed said: “The current pathway to diagnose prostate cancer is flawed and unreliable. We want to change this pathway. New imaging tests show great promise in detecting prostate cancer.
“There are new ultrasound methods (using sound-waves) and new magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI (using magnetic pulses) to scan tissue. We have large studies examining exactly how good these new tests are at detecting important prostate cancers.”
Current blood tests for prostate cancer are not specific and can lead to inaccurate biopsies being taken – doctors take tissue for the biopsy in a random manner in the hope that the cancer area will be hit. The results of these tests often mean that men are falsely reassured or misdiagnosed.
Dr Ahmed continued: “Current tests for prostate cancer cannot reliably tell us if the cancer is life threatening so many patients undergo radical surgery or radiotherapy unnecessarily.
“Surgery and radiotherapy will often leave patients with uncomfortable or embarrassing side effects - such as impotence or incontinence - as these treatments insist on treating the whole prostate rather than the cancer only – this causes damage to surrounding nerves and muscles.”
One of the new prostate cancer treatments being pioneered in clinical trials at UCH and UCL is focal therapy. It involves targeting only the tumour using devices that use light, heat or cold to precisely destroy the tissue. Early results have shown that 95% of men have none of the side effects of other common treatments.
These new treatments for the diagnostic and therapeutic pathway of prostate cancer could be brought into the NHS within five years.