Calls for investment in prostate cancer research as death rate overtakes that of breast cancer
PUBLISHED: 18:02 02 February 2018 | UPDATED: 18:02 02 February 2018
A Suffolk nurse has called for more money to be injected into prostate cancer research as new data shows it is now the third most deadly form of the disease.
Prostate Cancer UK has revealed the number of men dying from the condition every year in the UK has overtaken the number of women losing their life to breast cancer for the first time ever.
Lung and bowel cancer remain the two most common forms to die from.
An average of 666 men in Suffolk are diagnosed with prostate cancer annually, and 134 die from it.
In Essex, there are 1,388 new causes every year and 364 deaths.
Breast cancer fatalities have been steadily decreasing since 1999, however the same downward trend is yet to be seen in prostate cancer.
Over the same period breast cancer has benefited from a screening programme, along with significant investments in research, according to Prostate Cancer UK.
Maggie Bingle, a prostate cancer nurse specialist at Ipswich Hospital, said more funding needed to be committed to finding an accurate test for the disease.
The best screening currently available is a blood test that measures the amount of prostate specific antigen (PSA) present.
It is normal for men to have a small amount of PSA in their blood and while a raised reading suggests a problem, it is not definitive and more examinations will be required before a cancer diagnosis can be given.
“It’s the best we’ve got but I think a lot of money needs to be spent to find a more appropriate test,” Mrs Bingle said.
“If we had a more accurate test and a better screening programme then people would be picked up earlier because obviously as with a lot of cancers prostate cancer is usually curable if it’s picked up early enough.”
In addition, Mrs Bingle wants to see more research commissioned into the different types of prostate cancer and what treatments work best for them.
Awareness raising initiatives like the Race for Life should be introduced for prostate cancer to break down the stigma that often prevents men from seeking support, Mrs Bingle added.
While these latest statistics are concerning, Mrs Bingle stressed positive advancements in care were being made nationally and locally, with men now living much longer with prostate cancer.
Jeff Willmot, from Stowupland, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2013 and is currently on the road to recovery having undergone radiology, radiotherapy and hormone injections at Ipswich Hospital.
The 73-year-old is a volunteer for Prostate Cancer UK and vice-chairman of the East Suffolk Prostate Cancer Support Group.
As part of these duties, Mr Willmot works to raise awareness of the illness among men’s group.
“Most men are absolutely stunned, they don’t know where it is and they don’t know what it is,” he said.
“A lot of them don’t appreciate it can be a killer.”
The father-of-three backed calls for funding for research, and said more needed to be done to improve knowledge among GPs.
Mr Willmot, whose father had prostate cancer and his eldest son was diagnosed at 46, urged patients to make use of local support groups.
“I have to say on the day I was diagnosed because there is so little information about it I was knocked for six,” he said.
“I was advised by the radiotherapy people to go along to the support group meetings and that was a life saver.
“Immediately you are in amongst a group of men who know exactly what you are going through and it’s not support you get from anyone else.”