Worrying delays in diagnosis of prostate cancer

A report by charity Orchid has revealed that four in 10 prostate cancer cases in the UK are diagnosed late. This is leading to a ‘worrying trend’ with 37% of prostate cancer cases diagnosed at stages three and four.

The report also found that one in four cases of prostate cancer was diagnosed in A&E. This follows previous reports that highlight the number of men dying from this disease has now overtaken female deaths from breast cancer in the UK.

The charity has called for urgent action to prevent more deaths and suffering.

Orchid chief executive Rebecca Porta said: “With prostate cancer due to be the most prevalent cancer in the UK within the next 12 years, we are facing a potential crisis in terms of diagnostics, treatment and patient care. Urgent action needs to be taken now.”

The report canvassed the opinion of the UK’s leading prostate cancer experts and looked at previously published data to get a picture of the prostate cancer care across the UK.

The report says that 42% of prostate cancer patients saw their GP with symptoms twice or more before they were referred, with 6% seen five or more times prior to referral.

Prof Frank Chinegwundoh, a urological surgeon at Bart’s Health NHS Trust said: “25% of prostate cancer cases in the UK are diagnosed at an advanced stage. This compares to just 8% in the US where there is greater public awareness of prostate cancer and greater screening.”

Although there is controversy over the effectiveness of the standard PSA test used to detect the cancer, he also added that “it is still vital that patients are diagnosed early to assess if they need treatment or not as advanced prostate cancer is incurable.”

Furthermore, the report said there needed to be renewed efforts to develop better testing methods.

The PSA test is available free to any man aged 50 or over who requests it, but the report said this can “create inequity” with tests being taken up by “more highly educated men in more affluent areas”.

Prof Anne Mackie, director of programmes for the UK National Screening Committee, said the test was not offered universally because it was not very good at predicting which men have cancer.

A spokesperson for NHS England said: “NHS England is working closely with leading clinical experts to bring the latest research on prostate cancer into practice. Targeted work is also being undertaken to ensure prostate cancer is diagnosed quickly and that everyone receives the best care wherever they live across the country.”

On the day the study was published, the government announced a £75m funding package for research into the condition.

The new studies will target higher risk groups including black men – one in four of whom will develop the disease – as well as men aged 50 or over and men with a family history of prostate cancer.

If you or a family member has suffered from mistakes made by the NHS or other healthcare provider, which you consider unacceptable and feel that this has caused an injury, Devonshires Claims is a team of medical negligence specialists and are here to help with the difficult process of seeking compensation.

If you wish to speak with one of our team, please contact Karen Cathcart, a specialist lawyer with experience in these types of  medical misdiagnosis compensation claims.

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