An audit of NHS prostate cancer treatments finds curative treatments for locally advanced prostate cancer almost doubled in England between 2006-2008 and 2010-2013, but the proportion of men treated varies wildly depending on where men live.
Results from the second Annual Report of the National Prostate Cancer Audit (NPCA) – published this week – show national guidelines to improve the NHS's treatment of prostate cancer in England have been increasingly used by NHS services between 2010 and 2013, but the regional variation in the figures collected is a big cause for concern.
The audit found that men with locally advanced prostate cancer are increasingly being offered radical treatments – like radiotherapy or prostatectomy – that can potentially cure the disease, with figures up from 27% between 2006 and 2008 to 47% between 2010 and 2013. While such radical treatments for men with low-risk cancer that's unlikely to spread beyond the prostate have decreased – from 28% to 13% over the same periods.
But although encouraged by the findings, Prostate Cancer UK is concerned about regional variation in the proportion of men treated. Although the proportion of men diagnosed with locally advanced prostate cancer between 2010 and 2013 who later received some form of radical therapy within 12 months was 47% overall, this was as little as 19% in some parts of the country.
We want more NHS services to follow national guidelines so that every man gets the best possible treatment and care, no matter where he lives
Angela Culhane, Chief Executive of Prostate Cancer UK, said: "It's certainly encouraging that national guidelines for prostate cancer are being widely taken up and followed by clinicians across England. But it's concerning that we are seeing so much regional variation in diagnosis and treatment.
"So, while it's good news that more men with locally advanced prostate cancer are being offered radical treatment with the potential to cure their disease, it's worrying that the number of men who underwent radical therapy in England varies by nearly 50% depending on where they live."
She added: "We want more NHS services in England and Wales to follow national guidelines so that regional variation ends and every man gets the best possible treatment and care, no matter where he lives. We look forward to the findings of the next wave of the Audit and in the meantime will be working to highlight variations and achieve a more level playing field for men with all types and stages of prostate cancer."