A LONG-TERM prostate cancer survivor has hailed “game-changing” research which aims to prolong patients’ lives by tailoring treatment to the genetic make-up of their tumour.

Scientists at Glasgow University will lead a study which they believe has the potential to extend the lives of 9,000 men every year in the UK.

It hopes to identify changes in the DNA of prostate cancer cells not yet resistant to hormone therapy and develop a simple test which detects these genetic changes. It will also pinpoint the drugs best equipped to target these genetic changes and prevent the cancer from spreading further.

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HeraldScotland: Alister Walker

Similar "precision medicine" is already used for women diagnosed with advanced breast cancer.

Alister Walker, 64, from Pitlochry welcomed the move. Mr Walker, a married father-of-three who runs a camera shop in Perth was diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer aged 53. It was caught by doctors just before it spread to other parts of his body and he responded well to radiotherapy to shrink his tumour.

Since 2007, he has also been receiving quarterly oestrogen hormone injections to keep his testosterone levels in check and prevent the cancer spreading. However, he knows that the hormone treatment cannot control the disease permanently.

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He said: "I was always told by the oncologist and the people looking after me that eventually the efficacy of the hormone treatment would wear off, and would stop eventually being effective at all in which case a new treatment would have to be considered.

"Every day is a bonus is how I look at it, because when I was diagnosed aged 53 they said it was aggressive prostate cancer. But with the radiotherapy and the hormone injections, I've been extremely lucky. Eleven years is a good outcome.

"But if we're going to take guys like me who are currently on an even keel but know that the effectiveness of the injections will tail off, and they can do something to give you a few more years of good quality life, that's a great idea."

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Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, with 3,091 cases diagnoses in Scotland in 2015. It also claimed 894 lives.

Men diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer are typically treated with hormone therapy, and move on to life extending treatments such as Docetaxel, Abiraterone and Enzalutamide once hormone therapy has stopped working.

Dr Robert Jones, professor of clinical cancer research at Glasgow University, said: "Prostate cancer affects every patient in a different way and on many levels.

"Some of these differences are due to the different biological make-up of the tumour itself which varies from one individual to the next.

"Current treatments don't take these biological differences into account, which probably explains why they work less well in some than others."

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The study will also involve researchers from Belfast, Manchester and London and is co-funded by Prostate Cancer UK, the Movember Foundation and the Distinguished Gentleman's Ride.

Dr Iain Frame, director of research at Prostate Cancer UK, said: "Every man's prostate cancer is unique to him and so not surprisingly the way men respond to treatments varies enormously.

"Clinicians are in effect left to treat patients 'in the dark' - with little idea as to which treatments will work best for which men.

"However, this new research programme could be game-changing, providing clinicians with the much clearer picture they desperately need.

"It will enable them to go straight to the right treatment for each individual man, saving precious time for those men who often have little time left."