25 February 2015
Article by Amy Clifton, National Assembly for Wales Research Service
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer amongst men in Wales, and is the subject of a debate in Plenary this afternoon.
The latest Welsh cancer statistics show that prostate cancer and female breast cancer are the most common cancers in Wales, with rates over twice as high as lung and bowel cancers (the third and fourth most common cancers).
Prostate cancer accounts for over a quarter of all new cancers diagnosed in men in Wales.
Research by Cancer Research UK shows that 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lives.
According to Prostate Cancer UK, more needs to be done to improve early diagnosis. The charity is therefore calling for a Welsh cancer awareness campaign targeted at men, which specifically highlights risk factors and symptoms for all cancers, with the aim of breaking down the barriers which stop people from discussing their concerns with their GP. It notes that Wales is the only UK nation without a cancer awareness campaign: There have been campaigns in Scotland and England, and the Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland recently launched a campaign.
Prostate Cancer UK’s research found that there is very low awareness of prostate cancer amongst the Welsh population.
Another charity Prostate Cymru also believes that public awareness needs to be raised about prostate cancer. It ran a campaign last year with the Welsh Rugby Union to spread the word about the risks, publicising the messages that:
- Men in Wales have a 1 in 8 risk of getting the disease;
- Men in Wales with a brother or father with prostate cancer have an increased risk of 1 in 3;
- Afro-Caribbean men in Wales have a 1 in 4 risk.
Variation across Wales
Prostate Cancer UK believes that there are inconsistencies in access to specialist nurses and in access to support for the side effects of treatment across Wales.
The latest Welsh cancer statistics report states that the five year survival rates for prostate cancer shows wide variation between health boards, from 78.4 per cent in Powys Teaching Health Board to 91.5 per cent in Cardiff and Vale University Health Board.
The Wales Cancer Experience Survey found that people with prostate cancer were the least likely to say they were definitely given enough care and support from health or social services compared to people with other cancers – scores ranged from 67% for colorectal/lower gastrointestinal cancer to 42% for prostate cancer.
The Together for Health – Cancer Delivery Plan sets out the Welsh Government’s delivery plan up to 2016 for NHS Wales and its partners. The vision it wants to achieve is:
- People of all ages to have a minimised risk of developing cancer and where it does occur, an excellent chance of surviving wherever they live in Wales.
- Wales to be comparable with the best in Europe
Andrew RT Davies AM asked a written question on support for prostate cancer patients in June 2014. The Minister for Health and Social Services responded stating that the delivery plan includes a specific action for Local Health Boards to assign a key worker to each person diagnosed with cancer, to help individuals to find appropriate support.