Prostate cancer services need to be improved immediately, report warns

14 November 2014

Prostate cancer services need to be improved immediately, report warns

A 'worryingly vast variation' in the care of prostate cancer patients is the current norm, experts warn.

Prostate cancer treatment and quality-of-care required immediate improvement “without delay” amidst fears that the most common form of cancer found in men is not being treated properly throughout England and Wales. Prostate Cancer UK has revealed its concern that the current prostate cancer regime varies “worryingly” across the country. This is based on its first ever audit of prostate cancer services across England & Wales.

Swift diagnosis of prostate cancer is essential to promote better treatment and has dealt with male members of the public whose concern about their own fears about quality-of-care and their own treatment mirror Prostate Cancer UK’s concerns. Improving current standards of care can facilitate the development of better means for diagnosis, treatment and support of patients and their families.

Owen Sharp, chief executive of Prostate Cancer UK, called for services to be improved ''without delay'' as The National Prostate Cancer Audit found only half of hospitals in England provided the support services men may need to manage side-effects. The audit was undertaken to assess whether NHS services meet recommended standards and it seems that this is not the case.

Prostate cancer affects around 40,000 men each year, resulting in 10,000 deaths

Mr Sharp said: ''Although there have been some improvements in access to the more sophisticated diagnosis and treatment techniques, the audit reveals a worryingly vast variation in availability of these options and that around half of men with prostate cancer do not receive all the support services they should.

''Such findings cannot be ignored. If we are to tackle this disease head on and improve quality of life of those living with it, it is imperative the recommendations made in today's audit are heeded by commissioners and used to drive improvement without delay.''

One of the key problems highlighted in the report is the relative lack of availability of diagnostic multiparametric MRI scans and high-dose brachytherapy for advanced patients across England & Wales. Presently only 75% of English hospitals have the MRI scans with just 20% of centres in England having advanced patient treatment capabilities.

''The availability of personal support services including cancer advisory centres, sexual function and continence advice, and psychological counselling should be improved.'' the report added.

Dr Heather Payne, the oncological lead in the NPCA audit, told The Times newspaper: ''The aim of anyone working in prostate cancer is that the quality of care across the country is consistent and that every man has access to the best treatment. Advanced technologies aren't available in all hospitals at the moment.''

Professor Noel Clarke, NPCA urological clinical lead, added: ''The National Prostate Cancer Audit will help us to monitor how men with this very serious condition are being treated. It will improve our current standards of care and facilitate the development of better means for diagnosis, treatment and support of patients and their families.''

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