Despite a gradual decline in mortality rates of men with
prostate cancer over the past decade, survival still appears to be
affected by a man's postcode, new research has revealed.
The figures, unveiled by The Prostate Cancer Charity, show a map
of disparity across England - with twice the rate of deaths in
Sandwell than in Kensington and Chelsea.
The data on death rates from prostate cancer, averaged over a
three-year period (2007-2009) and released to Parliament, reveals a
two-fold variation between Primary Care Trusts.
Of the 151 PCTs in England, 24 have a mortality rate which is
more than 10 per cent above the national average of 24 deaths per
100,000 of the population.
Owen Sharp, new Chief Executive of The Prostate Cancer Charity,
said: "It is clearly unacceptable that men diagnosed with prostate
cancer in different parts of England could live or die based on
their address. What we really need to see now is a clear and
credible answer to why, despite improvements in prostate cancer
services, this remains the case.
"Although prostate cancer care has improved in recent years,
these figures underline just how far we still have to go. Such
unexplained differences in death rates from prostate cancer need to
be addressed. Unless these are tackled, the Government will fail in
its goal of delivering outcomes in cancer that are comparable with
the best in Europe.
"Men in areas of higher mortality rates will want to be
reassured that the NHS is doing all it can to improve local
services, which includes providing men with accurate and balanced
information about the disease and enabling them to get diagnosed as
early as possible."
The Prostate Cancer Charity is launching a new campaign,
'Testing Choices', aimed at ensuring that all men at a higher risk
of prostate cancer, including men over 50, those with a family
history of the disease and African Caribbean men, better understand
their right to balanced information and the support they need about
whether or not to have a PSA blood test*.
The campaign, which will be officially launched at a
parliamentary reception tomorrow (Wednesday 30 March) as part of
Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, will engage politicians, local
government officials, healthcare professionals and health providers
in calling for the improved provision of accurate and balanced
information - wherever they live in the country.
Owen Sharp added: "The PSA test is not perfect, but it remains
the cornerstone of prostate cancer diagnosis. It is for each man
who may be at risk of prostate cancer, to decide for himself
whether or not having the test is right for him.
"With two thirds of men at risk of the disease unaware of the
existence of the PSA test and the current Government information
programme off the radar of two out of three GPs, men are facing a
number of hurdles to exercising their right to balanced information
and support about the test.
"National and local politicians and NHS officials must recognise
the need for an improved programme that will help every at-risk
man. This is why our new campaign, 'Testing Choices', is a much
needed and practical campaign to ensure that no man is denied the
opportunity to choose to take a test that might help diagnose
prostate cancer and is given the support he needs to make that
The Charity is driving this movement for change by piloting new
ways of making sure this information reaches men. It will then
campaign for the most successful programme to be put in place
across the UK.