Federal research funds have been dwindling for years; universities are hurting, and academic scientists, who have to raise their own research funding, are perennially strapped for cash. Drug companies like to bet on sure things, and without the initial research to show that a potential new treatment has promise, they aren’t interested.

There are other cancer foundations out there, and they do many worthy things. They offer literature, which is important; they have support groups, which are important; and they fund a few studies here and there, which is very important. But they weren’t started by men with prostate cancer, who are committed to saving lives and ending suffering from prostate cancer.

Nobody wants a cure more than we do, and we aren’t waiting around for one to be found: we are doing something about it.

No offense to any other foundation, but we aren’t here to do something good.

We are here to do something great.

And we’re doing it. We know you can’t just throw money at a problem and have it magically get better. Instead, we turn money into science, and then we turn science into treatment. We know that money, spent wisely, equals excellent research, and excellent research is the cure. This is why we ask you to donate and hope that you will – because it’s the best investment you can make. We leverage small donations into larger ones, and that money goes to research that becomes the new tests and treatments that you can read about on this website, and then ask your doctor about whether they’re right for you.

PCF Young Investigators at the 23rd Annual Scientific Retreat

PCF Young Investigators at the 23rd Annual Scientific Retreat

The PCF Research Enterprise now extends to funding research in 19 countries.

Over the last 23 years, we have funded more than $670 million in research. We have created an army of 204 young scientists – the most gifted and talented investigators in in 19 countries – because we don’t see prostate cancer as just an American problem, and the solution doesn’t just have to come from the U.S.

We actually don’t care where it comes from, because that’s not the point. The point is, there are men suffering and dying from prostate cancer. And as much as we now know about screening, and treating early disease, and even what we’re now learning about prevention – all funded by the PCF – it doesn’t help some of these men. They’re still dying, and they’re still suffering.

Don’t get us wrong: there is more hope now than ever before. The death rate from advanced prostate cancer has been reduced by 50 percent over the last decade.   It used to be that 50 percent of men with metastatic prostate cancer died in 17 months. Now, 18 percent of men with metastatic prostate cancer are alive 15 years later, and because of research funded by the PCF, many men with oligometastases may even have curable cancer.

But we’re not there yet.

There are many things we still don’t know. Maybe you have some of the same questions, too. For example:

    • Why don’t hormones cure? They can put prostate cancer into remission for many years, but it’s still there.

 

    • Speaking of hormones, is there a way to turn off whatever fuels my prostate cancer – but leave the testosterone, so I can have a sex life and still feel like myself? Believe us, we are working on this.

 

    • If my PSA is rising but I don’t have any evidence of metastasis, isn’t this the time to strike cancer? Yes, and we are working on new ways to achieve a cure at this time, before the cancer gets established in other tissues.

 

 

    • What do my genes have to do with cancer? In metastatic prostate cancer, genes matter a lot more than anyone thought. The good news is that we are working on targeting specific genes with new drugs, and this may lead to a whole new approach to treating advanced cancer.

 

    • Aren’t there any alternatives to androgen deprivation therapy? We are funding research looking into many different approaches. Our goal is to find a better way that doesn’t involve shutting down the male hormones.

 

    • I have oligometastases. Am I going to die? PCF-funded research has shown that treating the main tumor, and then spot-treating the one or two metastases with radiation, may lead to a cure in men with oligometastases.

 

    • Why is ADT causing cognitive impairment and dementia? The good news is that many men are on ADT for years and show no signs of impairment. But the PCF is worried about this, and we are funding research to find out who’s at risk, and how to protect the brain.

 

  • I have heard about drugs called checkpoint inhibitors that have worked in other cancers. Can they help me? The good news is that some men have been “exceptional responders” to checkpoint-blocking drugs. They don’t work for every man, but we are working on new approaches that we believe will cause complete remission in some men and one day, we hope to unlock the secrets to killing metastatic prostate cancer in every man.

As we said, there has never been more hope. But the granddaughter of a man who recently died of prostate cancer pointed out that “hope does NOT heal,” and that action, not hope, is cancer’s true foe.

Hope is a wonderful thing. Cure is even better.

We are going to raise half a billion dollars in research over the next six years. We can’t cure prostate cancer unless there is more research, because we don’t yet have enough basic understanding of the disease. There won’t be more research if we don’t fund it.  Where we are right now is where they were in New York, Ellis Island, in 1885. There was this beautiful, giant Statue of Liberty, and they ran out of funds to build the pedestal. Joseph Pulitzer, publisher of the New York World newspaper, took his case to the people, and donations poured in – most of them $1 or less, from about 125,000 people.

This is our manifesto. We can fund this cure. You can help. Does prostate cancer run in your family? Do you already have it? Maybe you’re worried about your children – male and female, because we now know that some of the same inherited genes that cause prostate cancer can cause breast, ovarian, pancreatic, colon, or other cancers.

Do you hate this disease as much as we do? Please, help us cure it.

Terms to know from this article:

Screening

Checking for disease when there are no symptoms.

Remission

A decrease in or disappearance of signs and symptoms of cancer. In partial remission, some, but not all, signs and symptoms of cancer have disappeared. In complete remission, all signs and symptoms of cancer have disappeared, although cancer still may be in the body.

Testosterone

A hormone that promotes the development and maintenance of male sex characteristics.

Metastasis

The spread of cancer from one part of the body to another. A tumor formed by cells that have spread is called a "metastatic tumor" or a "metastasis." The metastatic tumor contains cells that are like those in the original (primary) tumor. The plural form of metastasis is metastases (meh-TAS-ta-seez).

androgen

A type of hormone that promotes the development and maintenance of male sex characteristics.

PSA

prostate-specific antigen (PSA): A substance produced by the prostate that may be found in an increased amount in the blood of men who have prostate cancer, benign prostatic hyperplasia, or infection or inflammation of the prostate.

Tumor

A mass of excess tissue that results from abnormal cell division. Tumors perform no useful body function. They may be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

Janet Farrar Worthington is an award-winning science writer and has written and edited numerous health publications and contributed to several other medical books.

In addition to writing on medicine, Janet also writes about her family, her former life on a farm in Virginia, her desire to own more chickens, and whichever dog is eyeing the dinner dish.