Thousands of men with prostate cancer will be able to avoid the damaging side effects of surgery thanks to a new research scanner that will be installed in Norwich
Thanks to fundraising by Norfolk Freemasons, a state-of-the-art Affymetrix Microarray Scanner will be used to differentiate between the majority of harmless prostate cancers, known as pussycat cancers, and the 10 per cent which are aggressive, known as tiger cancers.
The Freemasons raised not only the £144,000 needed for the scanner, which will be in a new screening laboratory at the University of East Anglia, but also another £46,000 for prostate cancer research.
On top of that, the Masonic Charitable Foundation have given a grant of £100,000 to further fund the research project.
Up until now there has been no way for doctors to tell the difference between the two types of the cancer, which led to tens of thousands of men having unnecessary operations with serious side-effects including incontinence and impotence.
Each operation costs the NHS £7,500 to perform, so there are also significant savings to be made from performing less unnecessary surgery.
The clinical research team behind the test, which is enabled by the scanner, is led by Professor Colin Cooper, who is developing the new test after a laboratory breakthrough made using artificial intelligence.
He is hoping to raise £2 million to continue his vital research into this condition over the next three years, to create the new clinical test.
Prof Cooper said: 'I am extremely grateful to Norfolk Freemasons for their generous grant, which will fund not only the scanner itself, but also the continuing research into prostate cancer. Many lives will be saved as a result and many unnecessary operations will be avoided, saving patients from some very unpleasant side-effects. There is a critical problem at the moment of men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer.'
Prof Cooper had been working on the issue for 15 years, but it was only when he came to the University of East Anglia (UEA) he was able to get to the bottom of the issue. His research will be the only of its sort in the country, and could have ramifications worldwide.
Norfolk's Provincial Grand Master Stephen Allen, said: 'I'm delighted that we've been able to not only achieve our goal of buying the scanner, but we've raised more than double the amount needed. This will allow us to make a very significant contribution to Professor Cooper's ongoing research.'