A charity has warned that prostate cancer patients in the UK are facing a “postcode lottery”.
Prostate Cancer UK said the proportion of patients diagnosed when the disease is too advanced to be treated varies significantly depending on where patients live.
In Scotland, more than a third (35%) of men are diagnosed only when the disease is classified as stage 4; this means that the cancer has spread to another part of the body and is also known as metastatic cancer.
This compares to just 12.5% of men in London.
Prostate Cancer UK used several datasets to find the proportion of patients diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer, which in most cases was too advanced to be cured.
The charity found that the proportion of men diagnosed in stage 4 was as follows:
– 35% in Scotland.
– 20.1% in the North East and Yorkshire.
– 20% in Northern Ireland.
– 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 Southeast.
– 12.5% in London.
The charity added that data shows that men from deprived areas are at higher risk of being diagnosed at a later stage of the disease.
While the figures are largely drawn from information collected prior to the pandemic, the charity suggested that outcomes for men are unlikely to improve at a time when health services in England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland are under significant pressure.
Around 10,000 men in the UK are diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer each year.
Laura Kerby, CEO of Prostate Cancer UK, said: “This postcode draw for cancer diagnosis is absolutely unfair and the picture in Scotland is particularly shocking.
“Every man should have an equal chance of recovery, which is only possible if his cancer is caught early.
“Unfortunately, early-stage prostate cancer often does not show any symptoms, so men need to be aware of their risk and use our online risk checker to find out more.
“If you are at higher risk, which includes all men over 50, you are entitled to a free PSA blood test from your doctor.
“Because of their higher risk, we strongly recommend that black men and men with a family history of prostate cancer speak to their GP starting at age 45.”
The charity also expressed concerns that fewer patients are being diagnosed during the pandemic.
Ms Kerby added: “At one point in the pandemic, prostate cancer accounted for a third of all lost cancer cases, so it’s great to see that we’re starting to find and treat these guys.
“However, there is still a long way to go to completely reverse the impact of the pandemic, and as these numbers show, our work is not done even then.
“This is why we need a screening program for prostate cancer, and we are committed to funding research to make it a reality and save thousands of men’s lives.”
– Men have been asked to check their disease risk at prostatcanceruk.org/riskcheck and anyone with concerns about prostate cancer can contact Prostate Cancer UK’s specialist nurses on weekdays on 0800 074 8383 or online at www.prostatecanceruk.org.