Data recently released from Prostate Cancer UK demonstrates that prostate cancer has become the third most common cause of cancer death in the UK, overtaking breast cancer. This is despite improved survival rates for both cancer types.
The new figures reveal that 11,819 men died in the UK from prostate cancer in 2015 compared with 11,442 women who died as a result of breast cancer. A further 80 men were thought to of died from breast cancer in 2015, this was not included in the overall data.
The top cancer killer in the UK is lung cancer, which claimed 35,486 lives in 2015, followed by colorectal cancer, with a toll of 16,067 people.
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It is believed that the rise in prostate cancer deaths is a result of the ageing population. Angela Culhane (Prostate Cancer UK), who collated the figures, commented: “We haven’t yet got the big game-changing advances that breast cancer has had in terms of the screening program and also the precision medicine developments.”
Prostate Cancer UK states that 72,513 pieces of research had been published on prostate cancer since 1999 whilst more than 146,000 had been published on breast cancer. The charity also highlighted the research funding required to cut halve the number of prostate cancer deaths by 2026, estimating that £120m is required for research.
Roger Wotton, chairman of Tackle Prostate Cancer, stated: “This is a wake-up call for men and for the health service. Women have screening for breast cancer and this is one reason why mortality rates for prostate cancer are now higher than those for breast cancer. We need to get the prostate cancer mortality figures down, particularly as one third of men diagnosed already have advanced prostate cancer. We need earlier diagnosis and a better-informed testing regime.”
Despite the rise, Culhane explained that the bigger picture is positive:“If you compare to 10, 20 years ago, survival rates are generally getting better, that is certainly the case for both prostate and breast [cancer].”