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May announces £75m prostate cancer boost

Published on 10/04/18 at 10:46am
Image: Arno Mikkor

Prostate cancer has begun to receive more publicity in recent years in the UK, but not for the right reasons. In February it was announced that it had overtaken breast cancer as the third biggest killer in cancer and just yesterday it was revealed that 40% of prostate cancers are diagnosed late, at which point treatment becomes increasingly difficult.

Heeding the news, Theresa May has revealed that a further £75 million will be made available for research into the illness, as well as money being allocated to help patients get treated earlier and quicker.

Theresa May explained the extra funding by saying: “Too many people endure the loss of a loved one because cancer diagnosis comes too late in the day. Our cancer treatments are world class and survival rates are at a record high, but prostate cancer still claims thousands of lives every year. I know we can do more. That’s why I am setting out new plans to help thousands of men get treated earlier and faster.”

The funds will go towards recruiting close to 40,000 men into clinical trials that will determine how to better diagnose those potentially suffering from prostate cancer. Beyond a diagnosis, research will also be focused on determining how to identify particularly high-risk, aggressive prostate cancer from slow-growing and low-risk variants.

Currently, men are tested through PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels and this can then be followed up with biopsy if there is potential risk. However, the system is not perfect – with 70% to 80% of men with an elevated PSA level who undergo a biopsy eventually found not to have cancer.

Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Prostate Cancer UK said: “Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and it is now the third most common cause of cancer deaths in the UK. However, with increased research investment used wisely, over the next few years we can turn this around and make prostate cancer a disease men no longer need to fear. This is what Prostate Cancer UK is striving for through our ambitious research programme.

“Today’s announcement shows a very welcome and positive commitment from the government to play a key role in getting men the early and accurate diagnosis and treatments for prostate cancer they deserve. It at last shows recognition of what a huge issue prostate cancer is and the focus needed to stop it being a killer.”

Ben Hargreaves

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