Fifth of men with prostate cancer in Northern Ireland diagnosed at Stage 4, charity reveals
A prostate cancer charity says 20% of men living with the disease in Northern Ireland were diagnosed at Stage 4.
It forms part of research conducted by Prostate Cancer UK which says patients across the UK are facing a “postcode lottery” of care.
The charity has revealed that the proportion of patients diagnosed with the disease when it is too advanced to treat varies significantly depending on where patients live.
In Scotland, more than a third (35%) of men are only diagnosed when the disease is classed as stage 4 – which means the cancer has spread to another part of the body and is also known as metastatic cancer.
This is compared to just 12.5% of men in London.
Prostate Cancer UK used various data sets to find out the proportion of patients diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer – which in most cases is too advanced to cure.
The charity found the proportion of men diagnosed at stage 4 was:
20% in Northern Ireland
20.1% in the North East and Yorkshire
35% in Scotland
19% in Wales
17.8% in the Midlands
17.1% in the North West
16.8% in the South West
15.6% in the East
14.7% in the South East
12.5% in London
The data suggests men from deprived areas are at higher risk of being diagnosed at a later stage of the disease, the charity added.
While the figures are largely taken from information gathered before the pandemic, the charity suggested that outcomes for men are not likely to have improved during the period when the health services across England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland have been under significant pressure.
Every year almost 10,000 men across the UK are diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer.
Laura Kerby, chief executive at Prostate Cancer UK, said: “This postcode lottery for cancer diagnosis simply isn’t fair, and the picture in Scotland is particularly shocking.
“Every man should get an equal chance of a cure, which is only possible if his cancer is caught early.
“Unfortunately, early prostate cancer usually doesn’t have any symptoms, which is why men need to be aware of their risk and should take our online risk checker to find out more.
“If you’re at higher risk – which includes all men over 50 – you’re entitled to a free PSA blood test from your GP.
“Because of their higher risk, we strongly recommend that black men and men with a family history of prostate cancer should speak to their GP from the age of 45.”
The charity has also raised concerns about fewer patients being diagnosed during the pandemic.
Ms Kerby added: “At one point in the pandemic, prostate cancer made up a third of all missing cancer cases, so it’s fantastic to see that we’re beginning to find and treat these men.
“However, there is still a long way to go to fully reverse the impact of the pandemic, and as these figures show our job isn’t done even then.
“That’s why we need a screening programme for prostate cancer, and we are committed to funding the research to make this a reality and save thousands of men’s lives.”
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