Prostate cancer patients across the UK are facing a “postcode lottery” of care, a charity has warned.
Prostate Cancer UK said the proportion of patients diagnosed with the disease when it is too advanced to treat varies significantly depending on where patients live.
In Scotland, more than a third (35%) of men are only diagnosed when the disease is classed as stage 4 – which means the cancer has spread to another part of the body and is also known as metastatic cancer.
This is compared to just 12.5% of men in London.
Prostate Cancer UK used various data sets to find out the proportion of patients diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer – which in most cases is too advanced to cure.
The charity found the proportion of men diagnosed at stage 4 was:
– 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 South East.– 12.5% in London.
The data suggests men from deprived areas are at higher risk of being diagnosed at a later stage of the disease, the charity added.
While the figures are largely taken from information gathered before the pandemic, the charity suggested that outcomes for men are not likely to have improved during the period when the health services across England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland have been under significant pressure.
Every year almost 10,000 men across the UK are diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer.
Laura Kerby, chief executive at Prostate Cancer UK, said: “This postcode lottery for cancer diagnosis simply isn’t fair, and the picture in Scotland is particularly shocking.
“Every man should get an equal chance of a cure, which is only possible if his cancer is caught early.
“Unfortunately, early prostate cancer usually doesn’t have any symptoms, which is why men need to be aware of their risk and should take our online risk checker to find out more.
“If you’re at higher risk – which includes all men over 50 – you’re entitled to a free PSA blood test from your GP.
“Because of their higher risk, we strongly recommend that black men and men with a family history of prostate cancer should speak to their GP from the age of 45.”
The charity has also raised concerns about fewer patients being diagnosed during the pandemic.
Ms Kerby added: “At one point in the pandemic, prostate cancer made up a third of all missing cancer cases, so it’s fantastic to see that we’re beginning to find and treat these men.
“However, there is still a long way to go to fully reverse the impact of the pandemic, and as these figures show our job isn’t done even then.
“That’s why we need a screening programme for prostate cancer, and we are committed to funding the research to make this a reality and save thousands of men’s lives.”
– Men have been urged to check their risk of disease at prostatecanceruk.org/riskcheck, and anyone with concerns about prostate cancer can also contact Prostate Cancer UK’s specialist nurses on weekdays on 0800 074 8383 or online at www.prostatecanceruk.org.