Because the pandemic has made it harder for men to access a GP, it’s likely that thousands more cases of prostate cancer have gone undetected. We need your help to find men at risk.

8 Sep 2020

The impact of COVID-19 has meant thousands of men across the UK have undetected cancer and risk being diagnosed too late, with incurable prostate cancer. We’ve seen the biggest drop in referrals for suspected cancer in 10 years. We must act now to find these men at risk and help them speak to their doctor.

Because the pandemic has made it harder for men to access a GP, it’s likely that thousands more cases of prostate cancer have gone undetected.

The amount of patient referrals (when GPs send patients for specialist assessment) for urological cancers, including prostate cancer has dropped by half in England, compared to the same period last year. We estimate 27,000 fewer patients have been sent to urological cancer specialists for testing since the lockdown period began in March this year.

We need your help to find men at risk to help them speak to their doctor.

It’s the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the UK, but most men with early prostate cancer don't have any symptoms, so it's important that men at higher risk of developing the disease don’t wait until they notice something’s wrong. 

This September we want everyone to take and share our simple, thirty-second risk check to help find the men with prostate cancer that has gone undiagnosed due to the pandemic.

If men are at increased risk because they’re over 50, if they’re black, or if their dad or brother had it, they should call their GP to ask about the pros and cons of a PSA blood test, which can give them an indication of any problems with their prostate.

Dr Sarah Jarvis, a GP who appears on The One Show, Good Morning Britain and Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine show is backing our campaign. She said:

“It's a cause of enormous concern to me that cancer assessments have dropped so significantly in the last few months. There have been many reasons for this – patients have been understandably concerned about being referred to hospital because of the risk of COVID-19, it has been harder to get a face-to-face appointment with the GP, and GPs have found it harder to get patients seen urgently.”

“But earlier diagnosis improves your long-term outcomes, which is why I’m supporting the campaign to encourage men to have these vital conversations with their GP.”

You’ve helped us increase earlier diagnosis of prostate cancer before. We can do this again.

We know this campaign can work. When celebrities like Bill Turnbull shared their stories in 2018, and the news landed that prostate cancer had become the third biggest cancer killer, men across the UK called their GPs – creating a record-breaking surge in men being diagnosed with prostate cancer. Many of these men were also diagnosed early enough for curative treatment, before their cancer had spread.

Here’s journalist, presenter, and Prostate Cancer UK ambassador Bill Turnbull, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2017.

EastEnders actor Davood Ghadami, has also joined the campaign, adding: 

“My dad found out he was more at risk as a man over the age of 50, after watching me on TV presenting an NHS Award to Prostate Cancer UK supporter Errol McKellar. He went to see his GP and we were stunned when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, but grateful it was caught early and he was successfully treated.”

Angela Culhane, Prostate Cancer UK CEO added: “It's critical that men feel safe calling their GP. Most GP surgeries offer phone and video consultations, and men need to be reassured that the hospitals their GP may refer them to will be safe and not put them at undue risk from Covid-19.”

Throughout the month we’ll share stories on how people found out about their increased risk of prostate cancer, and information from health professionals and men showing what to expect when you talk with your doctor.

The most important thing you can do now is check your risk, and share our risk checker with your family and friends to help save lives.

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