A leading men’s health organisation today revealed its action plan to halve prostate cancer deaths within a decade1 – and it warned that the number of men in the UK dying from the disease will soar by a third unless urgent action is taken2.
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.
Inrevealing 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 it3, 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 cancer4. 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.
1 Prostate Cancer UK’s 10-year objective to reduce deaths by 50% is a projection based on the charity’s plan to shift the science in targeted areas by 2026. The projection is based on where the science is now and where Prostate Cancer UK calculates it will be in a decade with the right commitment from the research community and funders. The following criteria have been factored in:
- The number of men diagnosed with prostate cancer is increasing (GLOBOCAN, 2012), but if Prostate Cancer UK delivers the ‘better diagnosis’ strand of its strategy as planned, the percentage of cancers diagnosed at an earlier stage will increase. This is crucial because only 22% of men diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer survive for 10 years. Conversely 98% of men who are diagnosed at the earliest stage (with localised disease) survive for 10 years (PHE, 2013).
- Increasing investment in research to develop better treatments will ensure more men get effective treatment that increases their life expectancy, regardless of the stage of disease at diagnosis.
- Increasing the investment in research around the prevention of recurrent cancers.
- Prostate Cancer UK calculates that it will need to fund £150million of research in the key areas to deliver the projected result.
2 On average, 10,954 men die every year from prostate cancer in the UK [2011-2013] (ONS, Northern Ireland Cancer Registry, ISD Scotland & Public Health Wales). It’s predicted that by 2025, this figure will rise by 3,625 to 14,579 (GLOBOCAN, 2012) – a 33% increase.
3 Lloyd T, Hounsome L, Mehay A, Mee S, Verne J, Cooper A. Lifetime risk of being diagnosed with, or dying from, prostate cancer by major ethnic group in England 2008–2010. BMC Medicine. 2015 Jul 30;13(1):171.
4 Details about the risk tool:
The new tool will combine factors such as PSA score, underlying risk of prostate cancer, and life-expectancy measures in order to draw out those men at greatest danger from aggressive disease so that they can be put forward for further tests, whilst sparing those at lowest risk the need to undergo painful biopsies and the possibility of undergoing treatment for a disease that would never kill them. The aim is that the tool would be ready for clinical trials within the next three years and in the hands of GPs within the next five.
Key headline statistics
- Over 10,000 men die from prostate cancer in the UK each year. That's one man every hour.
- It’s the most common cancer in men, with 330,000 living with and after the disease in the UK.
- Prostate cancer is set to become the most commonly diagnosed cancer of all in the UK in 2030 - which is why we must all act now to curb its power to kill.
- Prostate cancer treatment often causes devastating, long term side-effects.Incontinence and erectile dysfunction strike at the heart of what it means to be a man.
- Anyone with concerns about prostate cancer may contact Prostate Cancer UK's Specialist Nurses in confidence on 0800 074 8383 or online via the Live Chat instant messaging service: www.prostatecanceruk.org. The Specialist Nurse phone service is free to landlines and open from 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday with late opening until 8pm on Wednesdays.
- Visit www.prostatecanceruk.org now to help beat this disease.
About Prostate Cancer UK
Prostate Cancer UK has a simple ambition – to stop men dying from prostate cancer.
Through shifting the science over the next 10 years to focus on radical improvements in diagnosis, treatment, prevention and support, we can make prostate cancer a disease the next generation of men need not fear. Standing against injustice, Men United is Prostate Cancer UK’s movement for everyone who believes that men are worth fighting for. Already more than a quarter of a million strong, Men United will help Prostate Cancer UK raise its game - and the funds vital to beat this disease. Working together, we can stop prostate cancer in its tracks.
To join the quarter of a million people already fighting for the disease and to help tame prostate cancer in ten years visit: menunited.prostatecanceruk.org
Further details on Prostate Cancer UK’s research priorities for the next ten years can be found here: http://prostatecanceruk.org/media/2492205/research-strategy-3-priority-areas.pdf