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Theresa May announces £75m funding boost for prostate cancer

Funding will enrol 40,000 men in trials for new treatments of disease which kills 10,000 a year

Alex Matthews-King
Health Correspondent
Monday 09 April 2018 23:18 BST
Prime minister will announce funding on visit with NHS staff in Cambridgeshire
Prime minister will announce funding on visit with NHS staff in Cambridgeshire (AP)

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, announced to coincide with Male Cancer Awareness Week, will support 40,000 men to enrol studies of cutting edge treatment and new 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, 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, with stretched diagnostic and treatment services 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.

The new funding will be focused on the groups at highest risk of prostate cancer, including black men, men over the age of 50 and those with a family history of the disease.

Further details are expected to come out during a trip to Cambridgeshire on Tuesday, where Mrs May will talk with NHS staff abut a long-term funding deal for the NHS.

Since 2010 NHS funding has averaged just 1 per cent growth a year as result of Tory austerity policies, which have heaped on further pressure with cuts to public health and social care.

Throughout the NHS’s history it has averaged a budget growth of around 4 per cent each year to keep up with demand.

Commenting on the news, Dr Iain Frame, director of research at the charity 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.”

Prostate cancer does not normally cause symptoms until the malignancy has grown large enough to put pressure on the urethra, this normally results in problems associated with urination.

This makes proactive screening in at risk but symptom-free men crucial.

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