Main Menu

New Study Evaluates Prostate Screening for Higher-risk Men


Thursday 18 November 2010


A new study will determine whether existing genetic tests and family history profiling can be used to find men at higher risk of prostate cancer, so they can be targeted for screening.


The PROFILE study follows years of research into prostate cancer risk factors, including the discovery of 31 genetic variants that predispose to the disease, and the recognition that family history substantially increases men’s chances of developing the disease.


The research team, led by Professor Ros Eeles from The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, will compare rates of prostate cancer diagnosis between men considered to be at high and low genetic risk. Professor Eeles is working in collaboration with Professor David Neal at Cancer Research UK’s Cambridge Research Institute and Professor Freddie Hamdy at the University of Oxford.


“This study will show us whether we have enough knowledge about prostate cancer genetics to find men at higher risk of the disease, and whether we should therefore start screening these men. Screening men at higher risk could potentially lead to earlier diagnoses, which would improve their chances of cure,” Professor Eeles says.


The researchers will take a blood sample from men with a known family history of prostate cancer to test their DNA and determine whether they have any of these predisposition genes. Some of the genetic variants are common in the population but only give a small additional risk individually but when combined can lead to higher risks.


These men are offered a biopsy to confirm whether cancer is present. They also have a blood test to examine their levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA), the standard test to screen for prostate cancer. The results are then correlated with the genetic results to see if genetic profiling can refine the current screening test of PSA and / or biopsy.


PSA testing is the only currently available tool to screen men with prostate cancer, but it carries a significant risk of over-diagnosis and over-treatment for men who would not otherwise need it. However, these risks may be less significant in men at higher risk of the disease, so scientists are looking for a way to identify this group.


The PROFILE study will eventually be conducted in three centres – London, Oxford and Cambridge - but is now only open in London.  Men aged between 40 and 69 with a family history of prostate cancer are invited to participate. For more information please visit the Everyman Male Cancer Campaign website or contact study co-ordinator Elizabeth Bancroft on 0207 808 2136.


This study is funded by grants from The Ronald and Rita McAulay Foundation, Cancer Research UK and support from the ICR, The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and the National Institute for Health Research for the Biomedical Research Centre at the ICR and The Royal Marsden.




Media Contact: ICR Science Press Officer Jane Bunce on 0207 153 5106


Notes to Editors

  • Prostate cancer affects more than 36,000 men in the UK each year. It is the most common cancer in men and the second leading cause of cancer death in men after lung cancer.  One Briton dies every hour from the disease
  • Family history is one of the strongest risk factors for prostate cancer. If a man has one relative with prostate cancer he is two to three times more likely to develop the disease compared to someone without a family history. The risk is even higher if the man has more than one family member affected or if the disease is diagnosed in the relative before the age of 60. These factors combine so that if more than one relative is affected by early-onset prostate cancer, the risk is increased by seven-fold
  • Approximately 5-10% of all prostate cancer and 30-40% of early onset cases (<55years) are caused by inherited susceptibility genes


For more information on the PROFILE study please see the Everyman website or Cancer Help UK


 The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR)

  • The ICR is Europe’s leading cancer research centre
  • The ICR has been ranked the UK’s top academic research centre, based on the results of the Higher Education Funding Council’s Research Assessment Exercise
  • The ICR works closely with partner The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust to ensure patients immediately benefit from new research. Together the two organisations form the largest comprehensive cancer centre in Europe
  • The ICR has charitable status and relies on voluntary income, spending 90 pence in every pound of total income directly on research
  • As a college of the University of London, the ICR also provides postgraduate higher education of international distinction
  • Over its 100-year history, the ICR’s achievements include identifying the potential link between smoking and lung cancer which was subsequently confirmed, discovering that DNA damage is the basic cause of cancer and isolating more cancer-related genes than any other organisation in the world
  • The ICR is home to the UK’s leading male cancer campaign, Everyman, which raises awareness and funds research into testicular and prostate cancer. Much of the research takes place at the ICR's Everyman Centre - Europe’s first and only centre dedicated to male cancer research. For more information visit

For more information visit


The Royal Marsden
The Royal Marsden opened its doors in 1851 as the world’s first hospital dedicated to cancer treatment, research and education. Today, together with its academic partner, The Institute of Cancer Research, it is the largest and most comprehensive cancer centre in Europe treating over 40,000 patients every year.  It is a centre of excellence, and the only NHS Trust to achieve the highest possible ranking in the Healthcare Commission’s Annual Health Check for the fourth year in a row.
For more information, visit or contact Naomi Owen on 020 7808 2107


Cancer Research UK

  • Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research
  • The charity’s groundbreaking work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives.  This work is funded entirely by the public.
  • Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of the progress that has already seen survival rates double in the last forty years.
  • Cancer Research UK supports research into all aspects of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses.
  • Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK's vision is to beat cancer.

For further information about Cancer Research UK's work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 020 7121 6699 or visit

comments powered by Disqus