MORE than 40,000 men will be recruited into prostate cancer research, in a Government bid to turn the major killer into “a disease that no longer brings fear”.
The £75 million plans announced by Theresa May will see thousands of men offered the chance to try new treatments far earlier, while testing new ways to diagnose the disease.
The Prime Minister said too many people were losing a loved one because they were diagnosed too late, with prostate cancer now causing more deaths than breast cancer. She also confirmed plans to set announce a fully funded long-term plan for the NHS later this year, saying the strategy would be developed with health service leaders.
Ahead of a visit to NHS staff in Cambridgeshire, Mrs May said: “Too many people endure the loss of a loved one because cancer diagnosis comes too late in the day.
“Our cancer treatments are world class and survival rates are at a record high, but prostate cancer still claims thousands of lives every year. I know we can do more. That’s why I am setting out new plans to help thousands of men get treated earlier and faster.”
Under the plans, more than 40,000 patients will be recruited for more than 60 studies in prostate cancer, to test treatments including more precise radiotherapy, high-intensity focused ultrasound and cryotherapy, alongside supportive interventions including exercise and dietary advice.
Early diagnosis is key to improving survival in prostate cancer – 98 per cent of those who are diagnosed early survive for more than five years. This figure drops to 36 per cent for those diagnosed late. However, research has found almost half of men with the disease had to see their GP at least twice before being referred for tests which led to their diagnosis. And current tests for the disease – which use a blood test to check levels of prostate specific antigens – are unreliable.
One pilot scheme is attempting to reduce diagnosis time from around six weeks to just days, by offering patients all their tests in one day, and using new scanning techniques.
Mrs May said: “Now in its 70th year, our NHS has a bright future – since last November, we have already committed £10 billion in new funding, including a new pay deal for one million NHS workers. In fact, as part of our balanced approach to managing the economy we have increased spending on the health service every year since 2010.”
Dr Iain Frame, of Prostate Cancer UK said: “Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and it is now the third most common cause of cancer deaths in the UK. However, with increased research investment used wisely, over the next few years we can turn this around and make it a disease men no longer need to fear.”
Laura Donnelly, Health Editor Daily Telegraph