‘Postcode lottery’ for men with prostate cancer must end

New guidelines to end a 'postcode lottery' in the standard of treatment and support of men affected by prostate cancer is needed to end nationwide disparity, The Prostate Cancer Charity says.

Owen Sharp, Chief Executive of the Charity, will today (Friday 14 October) address assembled delegates at its National Research Conference to explain why new care standards are necessary to ensure men receive the same high-quality services - wherever they live in the UK.

Sharp said: "We are concerned that men with prostate cancer are yet again being left behind when it comes to receiving the good quality care they deserve.

"It is extremely disappointing to see that in England the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is delaying the development of a quality standard for prostate cancer until 2014.  And, although some progress has been made in Scotland in the form of draft indicators, these do not go nearly far enough and miss out vital aspects of care and support - severely compromising the care that men living in these two nations receive.

"We know from recent research* that a man's experience of prostate cancer, and the NHS care he receives, varies greatly across England. And, despite a lack of data, it is likely to assume that men encounter a similar picture across the UK.  This is not a situation we can sit back and ignore.

"We also know that when guidelines on prostate cancer care have been delayed it has led to men with the disease reporting a significantly worse experience of care than men with other common cancers. We cannot, and must not, repeat the same mistakes."

In an attempt to continue to drive these necessary changes forward, the Charity will now carry out its own consultation to identify key standards of quality care from diagnosis, through treatment and beyond.  .

"The Charity, which is known for its campaigning and innovative services, is taking an active and creative approach. We will work with politicians, policy makers, health professionals and men and their families across the country to develop a shared understanding of what quality prostate cancer care looks like."  

Using the two-day research conference, which has drawn researchers, clinicians and men affected by the disease together, as a platform, Sharp will also highlight the need to ensure that the bridge between laboratory to men is a short one - and that developments in treatments and innovations in service provision rapidly reach the men they can help.

"Although we can be encouraged by the recent progress made in the development of new treatments for the disease, such as abiraterone and cabazitaxel. We need to ensure success in the laboratory translates into clear benefits for men and their families affected by this disease. Research starts with the clinician and the patient. It does not end, even with a developed drug, but in ensuring these drugs impact upon experience," he added. 

A host of new research was unveiled at the first day of the well-attended  conference, at London's Central Hall in Westminster.

The Prostate Cancer Charity has invested more than £9.5 million in research, since its inception in 1996.