The number of men having treatment for prostate cancer has jumped by more than a quarter in England in one year, new NHS figures show today.
Almost 4,000 men received prostate cancer treatment in August (3,898) compared to just over 3,000 in the same month last year (3,057).
Announcing the increase, NHS Chief Executive, Amanda Pritchard, said it was thanks to awareness-raising campaigns, adding that people talking about cancer “can save lives”.
More people than ever before are receiving urological checks – including for prostate cancer– with over 40,000 more between August 2021 and August 2022, compared to the year before (243,043 in the year ending August 2022 compared to 202,252 in year before).
The surge follows the launch of a joint NHS and Prostate Cancer UK campaign to encourage men to use the charity’s prostate risk checker tool. Since launching in February, the risk checker has been used over a million times and is thought to have helped an extra 1,800 men to receive a diagnosis.
Prostate cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers and is very treatable if caught early – research suggests treatment at stages one and two has a near 100% survival rate compared to around 50% at stage four.
The NHS is continuing to put in place extensive plans to increase early diagnosis in line with the NHS Long Term Plan setting out to increase the number of cancers caught at an early stage, including by piloting high street cancer checks in pharmacies and cancer symptom hotlines.
Speaking ahead of her King’s Fund appearance, NHS Chief Executive Amanda Pritchard said: “Talking about cancer saves lives – thanks to campaigns and tens of thousands more people coming forward for checks, we have treated increasing numbers of men with prostate cancer over the last year.
“This is good news for men and their families because getting treated at an earlier stage dramatically increases your chances of survival – early detection of prostate cancer has a near 100% survival rate.
“We are determined to detect even more cancers at an earlier stage when they are easier to treat and we are continuing to introduce new and convenient ways for people to get checked, including through pharmacy checks on the high street and the rollout of one-stop shops for tests in the heart of local communities.
“This ‘Movember’, we are encouraging men to get checked when they have health concerns – it is really easy to assess your own risk of developing prostate cancer through the online risk checker”.
“Movember is the ideal time for more men to come forward if they have symptoms and get a check which could make all the difference.”
This month is ‘Movember’ – a campaign month to raise awareness of men’s health issues – with the NHS and charities urging men to get checked for early signs of cancer.
Prostate cancer usually doesn’t cause any symptoms while it’s at an early stage but the chances of developing prostate cancer are higher for black men, men over the age of 50 or for those who have a family history of prostate cancer.
If symptoms do appear, they can include:
- needing to pee more frequently, often during the night
- needing to rush to the toilet
- difficulty in starting to pee (hesitancy)
- straining or taking a long time while peeing
- weak flow
- feeling that your bladder has not emptied fully
- blood in urine or blood in semen.
Minister for Health Helen Whately said: “It is vital men come forward for prostate cancer checks if they have symptoms as the sooner cancer is detected, the better the chance they can make a full recovery.
“I am pleased a record number of men have been checked and that our community diagnostic centres have delivered over two million extra scans, tests and checks – including for cancer”.
NHS national clinical director for Cancer, Professor Peter Johnson, said: “It is fantastic to see men coming forward in record numbers for checks, and that means more are getting treated, potentially catching cancers early when the results are best.
“Symptoms may not show up in the early stages of prostate cancer but the risk factors are well researched and we urge people to use the Prostate Cancer UK risk checker to understand their level of risk and where to get more information.
“If you experience symptoms, like needing to pee more often or having problems urinating, speak to your doctor who can get you checked.”
Chiara De Biase, Director of Support and Influencing at Prostate Cancer UK, said: “After two years of a steep and sustained fall in diagnoses of prostate cancer, it’s very encouraging that treatments are starting to bounce back. We want to say a massive thank you to the NHS teams who are caring for record numbers of men.
“Covid has cast a long shadow over prostate cancer care, and despite these record referrals we need men to keep coming forward so they can be found and treated while their cancer is still curable. In the last 18 months, more than a million people have used our online risk checker, and we’re asking everyone to keep sharing it to help more men find out about their risk and what to do about it”.
Tim Scane, 65, from Oxfordshire, was diagnosed with fast-growing prostate cancer earlier this year after seeing Prostate Cancer UK’s campaign with the NHS in February and taking the charity’s online risk checker.
Tim said: “The only reason I made the appointment with my GP was because I saw the campaign and used Prostate Cancer UK’s risk checker. Three months later, I had a successful prostatectomy, and I’m now doing well.
“It’s such a handy way to alert men that there may be an issue and to take action, and I don’t know where I’d be without it, because I had no idea there was anything wrong with me. I’d absolutely encourage anyone else with any worries or concerns to take it too.”
Health chiefs have doubled spending on cancer awareness campaigns since before the pandemic. This week, the NHS launched the latest phase of the Help Us Help You campaign to encourage people to get checked if they have signs of cancer.
When BBC Breakfast presenter Bill Turnbull and comedian Stephen Fry talked about their prostate cancer diagnosis it led to a 36% increase in the number of people getting checked in 2018.
Check your risk using Prostate Cancer UK’s online risk checker at prostatecanceruk.org/riskcheck.