Exposure: Too late to save your life

More could be done to improve the procedures for testing and diagnosing cancer in the UK, ITV Exposure has found. Credit: PA Wire

More could be done to improve the procedures for cancer testing and diagnosing in the UK, ITV Exposure has found.

NHS programmes that regularly screen women for breast and cervical cancer are proving effective, but three other cancers – bowel, prostate and lung cancer – kill almost 60,000 people in Britain every year.

This amounts to almost 40 per cent of all cancer deaths in the UK- the equivalent of one every nine minutes.

The programme features the story of Gail and Fred Allen who both have terminal cancer.

Gail has bowel cancer and Fred has prostate cancer.

According to Gail Allen it took nine visits to the GP to diagnose her with bowel cancer,

Mrs Allen is determined to ensure their children shouldn't treat them as a special case and should live their lives.

Her husband, Fred, claims he was talked out of a PSA test for prostate cancer by his doctor.

Both believe they were diagnosed at a late stage of the disease.

Gordon McVie, who was chief executive of Cancer Research UK and has been a practicing oncologist for 40 years, says the UK has not been putting the resources that we need to and should have been putting in for the last 20 years into early detection and screening.

Mr McVie has called for the UK to introduce a prostrate screening programme in the UK:

I think we need a screening programme. Because that does bring men into the system and it gives them contact with the issues around prostate cancer, and there are lots of issues for men to grasp around the area of prostate cancer. Most men do not know where their prostate is.

Oncologist Gordon McVie has called for the UK to introduce a prostrate screening programme in the UK Credit: ITV Exposure

London's East End has extremely high prostate cancer death rates.

The first independently evaluated drop-in clinic in England was set up two years ago, offering free PSA tests, although it took two years to find the money.

Consultant urological surgeon Frank Chinegwundoh said:

328 men showed up. Out of those 328 men we found 56 of them had, you know, other severe urinary symptoms or they had a raised PSA, or they had some other pathologies. And out of those 56 men, 9 of them turned out to have prostate cancer.

It was recommended that more clinics like this were set up to reach more men who were reluctant to go to their GPs.

However, Mr Chinegwundoh revealed that no new clinics have yet to be set up as "hard cash is yet to be found".

Director of NHS Cancer Screening Programmes, Julietta Patnick said:

The national screening committee make these decisions. The money is not the issue at that stage. It’s simply should this screening programme happen or not, and the answer for prostate so far has been not. When that changes, when we have a better test, when we know how to treat the disease, then we make the financial case to ministers who make the final decision. But we’re not there yet with prostate.

  • Watch Exposure: Too late to save your life on ITV tonight at 10.35pm

For more information on cancer visit the Cancer Research UK website