Report reveals 4 in 10 prostate cancer cases are diagnosed late and an impending crisis in prostate cancer provision

Published: 9th April 2018

A new report – Prostate Cancer: Britain’s Growing Problem – published by male cancer charity, Orchid, highlights a worrying trend in late prostate cancer diagnosis and calls for urgent action by men, healthcare professionals and UK health chiefs to avert a “ticking time bomb in terms of prostate cancer provision”.

The report reveals that:

• 37% of prostate cancer cases are diagnosed in the late stages (stages 3 and 4)
• 42% of prostate cancer patients saw their GP with symptoms twice or more before they were referred (with 6% seen 5 or more times prior to referral)
• 23% of all cancer cases are diagnosed through A&E, with the majority of these cases at late stage
• Prostate cancer cases are set to rise dramatically over the next decade
The report has been produced by Orchid to highlight the worrying current and future trends in prostate cancer, associated with an ageing population. It also brings together commentary and thought-leadership from some of the UK’s leading experts in the field to set out the key issues facing the UK government, health policy makers and healthcare providers and the actions required to avert a potential ‘prostate cancer crisis’ by 2030.

“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”, says Rebecca Porta, Chief Executive of Orchid.

Experts in the report point out deficiencies in the current approach to prostate cancer diagnostics. With the debate over the effectiveness of PSA tests still continuing there is a call for a unified, efficient and effective testing programme for those at high risk and those with worrying symptoms. “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” says Greg Shaw, Consultant Urological Surgeon at University College London Hospitals.

The report highlights some significant advances in new surgical treatments, treatment centres and drugs for advanced prostate cancer but experts raise serious concerns over drug funding policies and the time it takes to bring new treatments on stream. “The reality is that it takes 17 years from innovation to treatments being available in practice and we need a top down approach to change this and speed up the process, as well as for consultants to be more open to change, to maximise patient outcomes sooner” warns Professor Frank Chinegwundoh MBE, Consultant Urological Surgeon at Bart’s Health NHS Trust.

Patient care and support also comes under the spotlight, with marked variations in service provision across the country, a lack of clarity on guidance for GPs and a desperate shortage of specialist nurses to provide patient support. Dr Jonny Coxon, Brighton GP and Secretary of the Primary Care Urology Society points to serious issues around “access to the formal help that is outlined in the guidance for prostate cancer care and, whilst GPs and Practice Nurses play a valuable role, there is still so much to improve upon”.

The team of experts contributing to the Orchid report set out some specific requirements in relation to diagnosis, treatment and patient care and call upon the government and health chiefs to put prostate cancer further up the agenda. Rebecca Porta concludes “We want to ensure that prostate cancer receives a proportionate share of voice when it comes to implementing cancer policies and strategies and we, together with our charity and patient organisation partners, will continue to push for the best possible outcomes for prostate cancer patients now and in the future”.

Please contact Rebecca Porta at Orchid on 0203 745 7310 to order a copy of the report.