This year, deaths from prostate cancer are forecast to fall in the UK – and across Europe – thanks to better diagnosis and treatment, new research reveals.
It’s welcome news considering that prostate cancer is the third most common cause of cancer deaths in the UK (behind only lung and bowel), accounting for around 7% of total deaths each year.
The prostate is a gland that sits underneath the bladder and surrounds the urethra. It’s main purpose is to make semen, the fluid that carries sperm. Men, trans women, non-binary individuals who were assigned male at birth and some intersex people have prostate glands, so are all susceptible to developing prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer occurs when cells in the prostate grow in an uncontrolled way. While some prostate cancer develops so slowly that men don’t even need treatment, other times it can grow rapidly and spread, which can cause problems and treatment is required.
Some common prostate cancer symptoms include:
Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men. In the UK, about 1 in 8 men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime. And while prostate cancer mainly affects men over the age of 50 and an individual’s risk increases with age, it is not uncommon in younger men too.
According to research by a team from the University of Milan’s School of Medicine in Italy, the mortality rate of prostate cancer in the EU has fallen by 7.1% since 2015, with 78,800 men expected to die from the disease in 2020.
In the UK, the researchers forecast there will be 11.99 prostate cancer deaths per 100,000 men this year. This compares to 13.25 deaths per 100,000 men in 2015, a decrease of 9.5% when adjusted for age.
However, it is important to note that the research was carried out before the potential impact of COVID-19 on healthcare systems is felt. With many hospitals and other medical facilities struggling to cope with the large influx of COVID-19 patients, there is a likelihood that cancer care and treatment schedules will be impacted.
[Related reading: Thousands Of ‘At Risk’ Patients Avoiding Hospitals Amid Covid19 Pandemic]
Speaking about the findings of the research, Carlo La Vecchia (MD), a professor at the University of Milan’s School of Medicine and the leader of the study, said: “Across the EU as a whole, the key message from these prostate cancer death rates is to adopt up-to-date surgery and radiotherapy techniques, together with newer androgen deprivation therapy.”
The research is very encouraging and the key message from this is that early diagnosis/intervention is essential to build on these rates. There are so many ways in which the private sector can complement the services from the NHS. If you’d like to know more, please do let me know.