A leading men’s health organisation today revealed its action plan to halve prostate cancer deaths within a decade – and it warned that the number of men in the UK dying from the disease will soar by a third unless urgent action is taken.
If the rising death trend continues, by 2026 prostate cancer will kill over 14,500 men every year, almost 4,000 more than the 10,900 it kills annually today. However, the charity estimates that deaths could be cut in half if the key areas of improving diagnosis and treatment can be resolved in the next ten years.
In revealing the 10-year plan – hailed as ‘game-changing’ by a group of leading scientists and clinicians from the world of cancer research – Prostate Cancer UK’s Chief Executive Angela Culhane outlined the strategy that will counter the trend and move the disease dramatically closer to becoming something that men no longer need to fear.
”The urgent objective is to shift the science and change prostate cancer from a killer into something a man can live with – taming it so that it becomes a disease our sons and grandsons will not be afraid of”, she said.
“This is the endgame. We’re on the brink of the scientific breakthroughs necessary to stop this disease in its tracks so that by 2026 it won’t pose the threat it does today.
“Right now prostate cancer kills a man every hour in the UK and that figure is set to rise. One in three men diagnosed with the disease currently dies from it, putting survival rates for our men behind most of Europe. It’s scandalous and we can’t let it continue.”
To achieve its ambition, the charity is now targeting all its research firepower on three key areas; diagnosis, treatment and prevention. As its first priority, it today announced plans to commit £2million to crack the problems that surround diagnosis which are blamed for many of the UK’s prostate cancer deaths. It has assembled an international taskforce of leading scientists to develop a new risk screening tool which can be used as a first-line detector to establish underlying risk of aggressive prostate cancer. The tool aims to revolutionise diagnosis so that no man’s cancer is missed before it is too late, as well as ensuring men won’t have to endure invasive and sometimes painful biopsies unnecessarily. It is expected to be in the hands of all GPs in the UK within the next five years.
Culhane continued: “With the right resources, we are confident that we can move the science forward to halve the number of men who die from prostate cancer within a decade. But research isn’t cheap and this is a race against time. We’ve got 10 years to make history and we’re calling on everyone who thinks men’s lives are worth saving to help fund this final assault that will tame prostate cancer for good.”
Last night, at a gathering of some of the biggest names in prostate cancer research and treatment, chaired by Professor Robert Winston, Prostate Cancer UK detailed how the lifesaving plan would be delivered.
Professor Winston commented; “When you get to my age prostate cancer is one those things that becomes a real threat. So this plan is game-changing. If prostate cancer can be brought to a standstill within my lifetime and reduced to something that my sons and my grandsons need not fear, that’s big news. But Prostate Cancer UK needs our support to get there. We have a historic opportunity which we’d be crazy to miss”.
Panellist Professor Malcolm Mason, Professor of Clinical Oncology at Cardiff University said; “Prostate Cancer UK is taking a bold lead and concentrating everyone’s minds with the 10-year timeframe. Year on year we take another step towards beating prostate cancer, in all sorts of ways, from finding new treatments, to developing better tests. Now is the time for the UK to get behind Prostate Cancer UK’s final push to nail the answers which we know are in reach. We’ve got a number of hurdles to clear, but I’m confident that this can be achieved within the decade with the right commitment from clinicians, scientists and funders.”
Professor Mason was joined on the panel by Professor Johann de Bono, Professor of Experimental Cancer Medicine, Institute of Cancer Research; Professor Joe O’Sullivan, Professor of Radiation Oncology, Queen’s University Belfast; Mr Ben Challacombe, Consultant Urologist, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust; Professor Martin Roland, RAND Professor of Health Services Research, Institute of Public Health; Professor Charlotte Bevan, Professor of Cancer Biology, Imperial College London; Professor Alison Richardson, Clinical Professor of Cancer Nursing and End of Life Care, University of Southampton and University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust; Chris Hopson, CEO of NHS Providers; Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Prostate Cancer UK; Heather Blake, Director of Support and Influencing at Prostate Cancer UK.
Assessing risk and improving diagnosis is just one area of focus for Prostate Cancer UK. In order to achieve its 10 year goal, the charity is also prioritising the development of better treatments and establishing better prevention strategies, and working to ensure that all men are able to access the best care and support both now and in future:
- Better treatments: Identifying and tailoring the right treatment for each individual man’s cancer and working out how best to use existing medicines, as well as funding the development of new ‘personalised’ treatments, with fewer side effects.
- Better prevention: Pinpointing what triggers prostate cancer and what makes it tick. Gaining a greater understanding of the genetic changes that drive prostate cancer to become aggressive will be instrumental in this.
- Better support: Working in partnership with health services and supporting men to ensure that everyone knows what the best standard of care is and that all men across the UK have access to it.
Further information on Prostate Cancer UK’s strategy, Ten years to tame prostate cancer, can be accessed at www.prostatecanceruk.org/10yearstrategy which will be live from 26/02/16.