For the 2019 General Election, Prostate Cancer UK has three calls that we want political parties and candidates to commit to in order to improve outcomes for men with prostate cancer:
Make sure the NHS has enough staff to meet future demand for prostate cancer services
The NHS Long Term Plan includes an ambition to diagnose 75% of cancers at stage 1 or 2 by 2028. However, in a report in 2019 the National Audit Office warned that staff shortages may result in NHS funding not being used optimally or not being spent. Without investment in the NHS workforce, the ambitions of the NHS Long Term Plan may not be met.
In addition, Macmillan’s 2017 nursing census found there is only one cancer nurse specialist (CNS) for every 145 urological cancer patients diagnosed, the nearest comparator is lung cancer with 108 diagnoses per nurse. Prostate Cancer UK estimates that an additional 500 CNSs will be needed by 2028.
We want to see political parties and candidates committing to make sure that the NHS and health education bodies are able to train and recruit the staff needed to meet the country’s ambitions for future cancer care.
Make sure the NHS has the diagnostic scanners needed to carry out cancer tests to diagnose prostate cancer early and accurately
Demand for MRI scans is rising, the volume of scans increased by 45% from 2012 to 2017. But, the UK has fewer MRI scanners per head of population than comparable countries.
Scanners also need to be replaced after a working lifespan of around 10 years. Our research in 2016 showed that 18% (47/256) of scanners were over 10 years old, and at risk of becoming obsolete. A further 7% (19/256) were due to be replaced. Our 2018 freedom of information data shows MRI scanner availability as the most cited barrier to further adoption of pre-biopsy MRI for prostate cancer.
We want to see political parties and candidates committing to support the NHS by giving it the funding it needs to purchase diagnostic scanners.
Make sure that patients can access new and targeted treatments
Scientific progress has created a new form of prostate cancer medicine, this treatment targets specific mutations in cancer cells. Targeting in this way is called precision treatment. In October 2019, research supported by Prostate Cancer UK led to the first precision treatment for prostate cancer being licensed, Olaparib.
These new treatments will face new challenges in getting to patients, most notably ‘genomic’ diagnostic tests are necessary to identify those patients that will benefit from the treatments and so are fundamental to ensuring patient access to them.
We want to see political parties and candidates committing to making it as easy as possible for this new generation of treatments to get to patients.
A joint cancer manifesto
Working together, 29 cancer charities across the UK have produced the One Cancer Voice manifesto outlining our combined priorities for the future of cancer care. Prostate Cancer UK’s priorities are reflected in this document.