Prostate cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed male cancer worldwide after lung cancer; and with over 650,000 cases diagnosed each year it accounts for a tenth of all new male cancers. Prostate cancer incidence is particularly high in the Western World, and in the European Union approximately 200,000 men are diagnosed annually.

Very little is known about the causes of prostate cancer, but a family history of cancer, particularly of the breast, ovary and prostate, is known to be a major risk factor for developing the disease. For more information about inherited predisposition and prostate cancer please refer to the causes of prostate cancer, and the genetics and cancer sections of this website.

Research shows that men who have a gene alteration in the Breast Cancer 1 (BRCA1) or Breast Cancer 2 (BRCA2) predisposition genes may have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer; it is also believed that men who carry these alterations may be at a higher risk of developing an aggressive (fast-growing) form of the disease.

Research has also linked men with a gene alteration in MLH1, MSH2 or MSH6 (also known as Lynch Syndrome) with a potentially higher risk of developing prostate cancer.

Since its introduction in the mid 1980s, the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test has become the backbone of prostate cancer detection. It is currently the only prostate cancer screening tool available, but because the PSA test is not specific to prostate cancer, and PSA levels can be raised above normal levels in patients with non-cancerous (benign) conditions, its use has caused a lot of controversy within the scientific community. For more information on the issues surrounding PSA testing please refer to the sections on prostate cancer diagnosis, and the PSA debate.

IMPACT is an international study which aims to discover whether screening to detect prostate cancer can be targeted at men who carry the BRCA1, BRCA2 and Lynch Syndrome alterations, leading to an earlier diagnosis and improved survival. It also aims to discover whether men who carry these genetic alterations are more likely to die from the disease, and/or develop an aggressive form of the disease (one that is fast-growing).

In the UK, recruitment of patients on to the IMPACT study started during 2005.  Men who are eligible to take part in the study are identified and contacted through collaborating genetics clinics. A list of all clinics currently recruiting patients for IMPACT is available in the Local Contact Information section.

Recruitment of participants in other areas of the world began in 2006. More information about the countries which are participating in the international IMPACT study is available in the Local Contact Information section of this website.

If you are interested in joining the IMPACT study, please take a look at our Eligibility Criteria and how to take part sections to find out if you are suitable for the study. You should also read our Patient Information Sheet which gives a very detailed description of the study for people considering participation.

If you meet the study’s eligibility criteria and wish to express an interest in taking part, you can either contact your local IMPACT research team (please refer to the Local Contact Information section for a list of all countries and clinics which are currently taking part in the IMPACT study), or contact the IMPACT study coordinator directly. (Unfortunately the IMPACT co-ordinators in the UK are only able to converse in English).


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