We know the NHS is under pressure and in need of more support but these figures should be a rallying call for change. Too many people are having to fight to be heard and are not given enough time and space to go through their diagnosis and the potential long-term implications of their cancer. Men often don’t know that they have a right to get tested if they have symptoms or if they are of age, and we hear many stories of doctors being dismissive of patients that turn out to have prostate cancer. It’s distressing that 6% of patients were not told about their prostate cancer in a sensitive way – being told you have cancer is one of the most difficult conversations someone may have in their lives. It is crucial that doctors have empathy and understanding when talking someone through a cancer diagnosis.
These stats remind us how much we have to learn from how breast cancer is diagnosed, cared for, and treated. One example of this is that we urgently need to develop better, non-invasive diagnostics that would enable a national screening programme, which would create a more efficient process for prostate cancer. Hopefully, this could also take pressure off GPs and lead to more men being aware of their risks and of how to get tested.
We know that men who are worried there might be something wrong are more hesitant to contact their GP in the first place. When they do, they often have to go back more than once and aren’t always given information that works for them. Our own data shows that only 38% of people felt like they were empowered to be a joint decision maker in their care, with 1 in 4 not given enough information to make a choice. All of these factors add up to later diagnosis and worse outcomes.