Prime minister Theresa May has announced an additional £75m in funding for “earlier and faster” diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer, which kills more than 10,000 men each year.
The funding was announced to coincide with Male Cancer Awareness Week. It will support 40,000 men to enrol studies of new treatment and screening tools over the next five years.
It comes as a report by the charity Orchid revealed four out of ten cases are diagnosed late. These are at stage three or four where the cancer has already spread to other parts of the body.
The charity warned of a “ticking timebomb” in prostate cancer care. They said stretched diagnostic and treatment services are likely to be overwhelmed by a growing number of cases.
“Too many people endure the loss of a loved one because cancer diagnosis comes too late in the day,” the prime minister said. “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.”
Prostate cancer affects one man in eight and is currently the third biggest cause of cancer death in the UK. It has overtaken breast cancer and on current trends is predicted to become the biggest killer by 2030.
A welcome ‘recognition’
The new funding will be focused on the groups at highest risk of prostate cancer. These include black men, men over the age of 50 and those with a family history of the disease.
Since 2010 NHS funding has averaged just 1 per cent growth a year as result of Tory austerity policies. These have piled on further pressure with cuts to public health and social care.
Commenting on the news, Dr Iain Frame, director of research at the charity Prostate Cancer UK released a statement about the PM’s announcement. “It at last shows recognition of what a huge issue prostate cancer is and the focus needed to stop it being a killer.”