12 Mar 2021
This article is more than 3 years old

Help us find the missing men: prostate cancer referrals fall by 52,000 due to COVID-19

Thousands of men are missing out on potentially life-saving conversations with their GPs – we need everyone to share our thirty-second risk checker to find these missing men and help them get an early diagnosis.

Holidays, weddings, parties – COVID-19 continues to put many aspects of our lives on hold, but some things just can’t wait. Prostate cancer doesn’t stop for COVID-19, so neither can we. We’re calling for everyone to use and share our thirty-second risk-checker to help find the missing men.

Over 49,000 men in England were diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2018, making it the most commonly diagnosed cancer.

However, the pandemic has made it more difficult for men to approach their GPs over the last year. The latest data shows that since March 2020, urgent referrals by GPs in England have dropped by over 52,000.

As a result, more than 8,600 fewer men in England started treatment for prostate cancer in 2020 than in the previous year. This pattern is expected to be reflected across the UK once data is released.

Some regions have been affected more than others, with the North East, Midlands and London seeing a greater drop in referrals compared to other parts of the country.

Unless we find these missing men quickly, thousands could be left with less chance of a cure.

The early stages of prostate cancer don’t usually cause any symptoms. Some men might notice changes in urination and get an early diagnosis, while others might not have any signs until the cancer has spread.

An early diagnosis makes an enormous difference. When the cancer is still in the early stages and hasn’t grown outside the prostate, treatments like surgery or radiotherapy are very effective. However, once the cancer spreads to other regions of the body, it is incurable.

This is why it’s so important for men to be aware of their risk and speak to their GP if they are concerned. However, due to the Covid-19, thousands of men could have their prostate cancer go unnoticed until it’s too late.

Check your risk

How you can help to find the missing men. 

Our iconic ‘Man of Men’ logo shows a third of the men greyed out to highlight the big drop in men starting treatment for prostate cancer in 2020. 

Help find the missing men.

Check your risk. 

Share our tweet.

Share our Facebook post.

Men over 50, black men over 45, and men with a family history of prostate cancer are at the highest risk of prostate cancer. We want to make sure that these men know their risk and can speak to their GP.

Andrew Richardson was able to catch his prostate cancer early thanks to regular check-ups despite the pandemic. Andrew, from Pontefract, West Yorkshire, was diagnosed in September 2020 and is grateful for the support he had from NHS staff: 

“I’d visited the doctor a couple of years previously, because I was over 50, feeling tired and wanted to check nothing was wrong. It turned out to be an enlarged prostate, but because my dad had prostate cancer, I was kept within the system and had regular check-ups. It was a good thing too, because I ended up being diagnosed with localised prostate cancer in September last year. 

“Despite being diagnosed in the middle of the pandemic, I’ve had a really positive experience, and I hope everyone gets that. Going from blood test through to diagnosis, surgery and the all-clear within four months during this time of Covid is remarkable. I can’t thank my medical team enough. 

“I was so grateful it was caught early, and I’ve been speaking to anyone my age who will listen to help raise awareness, so more men can be as lucky as me.” 

I was so grateful it was caught early, and I’ve been speaking to anyone my age who will listen to help raise awareness, so more men can be as lucky as me.
Andrew Richardson

Angela Culhane, Chief Executive at Prostate Cancer UK, said:  

“Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the UK, but until these missing men are found and referrals begin to rise, many more men could be diagnosed when it is too late for them to be cured.

“Detecting cancer earlier helps save lives, but sadly prostate cancer doesn’t have a screening programme, and most men with early prostate cancer don’t have any symptoms. That’s why we want men to be informed about their risk, which is higher if you are over 50, black or if your father or brother had the disease.

“You can find out more by taking our online risk checker or speaking to your GP about your risk.”

Help find the missing men.

Check your risk. 

Share our tweet.

Share our Facebook post.

Anyone with concerns can contact our Specialist Nurses on 0800 074 8383.