Men must talk about the dangers of prostate cancer to make informed decisions when it comes to the disease, says Health Secretary Steve Barclay
- Steve Barclay has called on Mail readers to come forward to share their stories
A mail campaign to cut prostate cancer deaths was backed by the Health Secretary yesterday.
Steve Barclay wants men to ‘make informed decisions when it comes to prostate checks’ because early detection and fast treatment saves lives.
He added: ‘Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men so I welcome the Mail’s campaign to raise awareness and get men talking about it. I want men to be able to make informed decisions when it comes to prostate checks.
‘Men aged 50 and over can decide if they would like to ask for a prostate specific antigen blood test free on the NHS. A PSA blood test can help diagnose prostate problems including cancer but it is not a perfect test, so it is important men have all the information and can choose what’s best for them.’
Mr Barclay called on Mail readers to come forward to share their stories to help shape government policy on tackling major diseases.
Steve Barclay wants men to ‘make informed decisions when it comes to prostate checks’
He added: ‘If you have been impacted by cancer, we need to hear from you.’
Around 1,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer a week, making it the most common cancer among men and second only to breast cancer overall.
For just under a fifth of annual diagnoses, the cancer is stage 4 – meaning it has already spread around the body, often making it incurable. Around 12,000 patients – one every 45 minutes – die from the disease every year.
Experts are in agreement that early detection is key to boosting survival rates. However, with no national screening programme, progress has been slow in bringing numbers down.
The Mail’s End The Needless Prostate Deaths campaign has received cross-party support with Labour and the Liberal Democrats adding their backing. Wes Streeting, Labour’s health spokesman, said it was inexcusable for men to have different survival odds based on where they lived.
The Mail has reported that men in parts of the North East are up to six times more likely to be diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer than counterparts in most areas of London.
Mr Streeting, himself a cancer survivor, said: ‘Patients in every part of the country should be able to get tested, diagnosed, and treated as quickly as possible. It is unfair and inexcusable for some men to have such worse odds when it comes to prostate cancer simply because of where they live.
‘We must bring an end to needless prostate cancer deaths.
‘It will require fundamental reform of the NHS, so it diagnoses illness and treats it much earlier.’
He added: ‘Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men so I welcome the Mail’s campaign to raise awareness and get men talking about it’
Mr Streeting was admitted to hospital in March 2021 with pain from a kidney stone before a scan revealed a malignant tumour. He had surgery and was declared cancer-free in 2021, an outcome he attributes to his lucky early diagnosis and swift treatment.
With men only half as likely to seek medical help than women, he said embarrassment or stoicism should not get in the way of life-saving checks.
Mr Streeting added: ‘As someone who owes his life to the NHS catching my cancer early, I encourage all men to get yourself checked if you notice symptoms.’
The Mail has been campaigning for more than 25 years for an improvement in prostate cancer treatments and diagnosis. Because prostate tests are not good enough to allow routine testing in the same way as for breast cancer, men must visit their family doctor if they have symptoms.
Lib Dem health spokesman Daisy Cooper said we should all ‘play our part in shattering the stigma around prostate cancer’ with too many families ‘losing the men they love far too soon’.
She added: ‘I wholeheartedly back this campaign from the Mail and Prostate Cancer Research leading the charge.’
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