Telephone Support Line 0800 092 7640

Available Monday to Friday 9.00am-5.00pm

Telephone Support Line 0800 092 7640

Available Monday to Friday 9.00am-5.00pm

Telephone Support Line 0800 092 7640

Available Monday to Friday 9.00am-5.00pm

You may wish to fundraise yourself, with family and friends or within your local group. Whatever the idea, be it large or small, we know you will have a great time raising vital funds for Big C.

Did you know we have 12 charity shops across Norfolk including a dedicated Craft Supplies Shop, Furniture Emporium, Bridal and a high-end fashion Boutique? We are always looking for high quality donations.


We are always looking for volunteers including in our Support Centres, shops and at our Fundraising events. Volunteering is a great way to spend some free time, meet new people, and gain experience.

Help us build a new Cancer Support Centre in Norwich. Support our vision to bring greater cancer care nearer to home. Donate now.

Distinguishing aggressive from non-aggressive prostate cancer (The Tiger Test)

Distinguishing aggressive from non-aggressive prostate cancer (The Tiger Test)

2019 Research Grant Award

£93,294 for a 24 month project starting April 2020 at Norwich Medical School, UEA.

Grant applicant:

Prof Colin Cooper

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. Across North America and Europe 500,000 cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed annually. In the UK, we lose 11,000 men each year to this devastating disease.  What makes prostate cancer unique is that, unlike other cancers, most prostate cancers are harmless. The challenge that clinicians face is how to reliably distinguish between benign cancers and the 10% of aggressive, potentially fatal cancers at the point of diagnosis.

Previously, many scientists have tried to develop a classification system for prostate cancer but this has always failed. In our work, we took a different approach to analysing existing data. When we take a tissue sample from a patient it’s about the size of a pea. We put that in a fancy pestle and mortar and crush it up. In other words, you crush up all the structure and then get an average of everything in that sample. The problem is that the pea-sized sample is made up of several different components and all that information is mushed together and lost when you prepare it for analysis.

We decided to use a different form of maths, an artificial intelligence approach, to reconstruct the original samples, which takes into account their heterogeneity or innate diversity. We discovered that prostate cancer is like a layered sweet with several different elements, rather than a single component like breast cancer, which could be likened to a marshmallow. What was shocking is that we found one particular component that defines a distinct category of prostate cancer, and when we linked that to the clinical data it always had a poor outcome. This component is called the ‘Tiger’ or ‘DESNT’ component. This had been completely missed because previously scientists were using the wrong maths.

Critically, DESNT provided new information in addition to that provided by conventional clinical markers such as Clinical Stage (how far the cancer has spread), Gleason Grade (how abnormal the cancer looks down a microscope) and PSA.

We are currently engaged in a three-stage initiative to set up a clinical test that finds if DESNT is present in a patients biopsy sample. In Phase 1 we raised funds to set up a Diagnostic Laboratory at the University of East Anglia. Big C’s grant funding initiates Phase 2 of the project which involves application of the test in high profile clinical series.  The outcome, once Phase 2 and Phase 3 are complete, will be an CE-mark ISO standard compliant test that can be used to direct treatment in patients diagnosed with prostate cancer. Ultimately, the Tiger Test will save lives by providing an accurate diagnosis of aggressive prostate cancer, whilst sparing tens of thousands of men with clinically irrelevant ‘pussycat’ cancers from unnecessary treatment that often results in life-changing side-effects, including impotence and urinary incontinence.

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Two men from Norfolk who found themselves with cancer and having to travel for treatment, vowed local people would have access to the best treatment and support … and in 1980 the Big C Appeal was formed.