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Nearly four in 10 prostate cancer cases diagnosed late warns cancer charity

Leading charity warns of a Credit: PA

A cancer charity has warned nearly four out of ten cases of prostate cancer are being diagnosed late.

Research by cancer charity Orchid shows a "worrying trend" in late diagnoses.

In February figures showed the number of men dying from prostate cancer had overtaken female deaths from breast cancer for the first time in the UK.

The charity is calling for urgent action by men, healthcare professionals and UK health chiefs to avert a "ticking time bomb in terms of prostate cancer provision."

With an ageing population and a predicted increase in prostate cancer incidence, it wants to see improvements in early detection rates and more effective treatment planning.

It is critical that men are made aware of the symptoms of advancing prostate cancer. Credit: PA

The report, published to coincide with the 10th Male Cancer Awareness Week, also reveals that 42% of prostate cancer patients saw their GP with symptoms twice or more before they were referred (with 6% seen five or more times prior to referral), and that 23% of all cancer cases are diagnosed through A&E, with the majority of these cases at late stage.

Symptom awareness is recognised as the leading factor in the early diagnosis of prostate cancer and, once diagnosed, it is critical that men are made aware of the symptoms of advancing prostate cancer such as extreme tiredness, bone pain and problems urinating.

Prostate cancer symptoms:

  • prostate cancer is diagnosed by using the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test, biopsies and physical examination
  • there can be few symptoms of prostate cancer in the early stages, and because of its location most symptoms are linked to urination
  • needing to urinate more often, especially at night
  • needing to run to the toilet
  • difficulty in starting to urinate
  • weak urine flow or taking a long time while urinating
  • feeling your bladder has not emptied fully
  • men with prostate cancer can also live for decades without symptoms or needing treatment because the disease often progresses very slowly

Orchid chief executive Rebecca Porta said: "With prostate cancer due to be the most prevalent cancer in the UK within the next 12 years, we are facing a potential crisis in terms of diagnostics, treatment and patient care.

"Urgent action needs to be taken now if we are to be in a position to deliver world class outcomes for prostate cancer patients and their families in the future."

According to Katherine Mutsvangwa, a Male Cancer Information Nurse and Oncology Nurse at Bart’s and The London NHS Trust: "Men need to have a much better understanding of their risk and the symptoms of prostate cancer and be encouraged to visit their GP whenever they suspect anything unusual."

With an ageing population, Orchid are calling for urgent action to improve early detection. Credit: PA

Experts in the report also point out variations in care across the country and deficiencies in the current approach to prostate cancer diagnostics.

Greg Shaw, consultant urological surgeon at University College London Hospitals, said: "There is an urgent need for better tests to define how aggressive a prostate cancer is from the outset, building on diagnostic tests like MRI scans and new biopsy techniques which help to more accurately define the extent of the prostate cancer.

This would enable us to counsel patients with more certainty whether the prostate cancer identified is suitable for active surveillance or requires urgent surgery and treatment."

There are concerns about the time it takes to bring new treatments to patients. Credit: PA

A spokesperson for NHS England said: "NHS England is working closely with leading clinical experts to bring the latest research on prostate cancer into practice. Targeted work is also being undertaken to ensure prostate cancer is diagnosed quickly and that everyone receives the best care wherever they live across the country."