Prostate Cancer Research has today announced the launch of their first round of research projects which will tackle the inequities in the diagnosis, treatment, and care of the UK’s most commonly diagnosed cancer. The charity has committed to funding at least three rounds of targeted projects which will explore solutions to the racial disparity within prostate cancer over the next three years, as part of a broader health inequities programme which also focuses on health literacy and data.
Black men are twice as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer as White men, two and a half times more likely to die of the disease, and are likely to be diagnosed at a younger age. They may also be more likely to face delayed referrals, and be offered less aggressive cancer treatments even though they are more likely to have more aggressive tumours. “In light of how little was being done about this problem, in the face of the need, we took the decision to target our funding towards one of the areas it is most needed – closing the gaps between Black and White men,” Dr Naomi Elster, Director of Research at Prostate Cancer Research said.
The five projects announced today, funded to a total of £875,000 will take place at the University of East Anglia, University of Sunderland, University of Essex, University College London, and Harvard University. Cutting-edge biology techniques will be used to investigate reasons Black men are more likely to get prostate cancer, and potential ways to screen for men at high risk. Social science approaches will explore the barriers the Black community faces to early diagnosis, and NHS datasets will be mined to uncover whether people from different ethnic groups are more or less likely to stick with certain cancer treatments.
These projects form part of Prostate Cancer Research’s overarching Health Inequities Programme, which focuses on three key challenges of racial differences, low health literacy, and lack of representation in the data used to make decisions about new treatments and diagnostics.
Almost half of the UK’s population are thought to have low health literacy, which can lead to their needs being hidden, less effective communication with healthcare practitioners, and is linked to increased visits to A&E, increased treatment regret, and more risk of death. With the support of the National Lottery Community Fund, Prostate Cancer Research are developing The Infopool, a digital platform to empower people living with prostate cancer to make more informed decisions.
The charity also recently launched a pledge campaign, headed by Stephen Fry, inviting prostate cancer patients to voluntarily donate their data to a first-of-its-kind prostate cancer registry in the UK, which would capture patient experiences and use these to develop better treatments and diagnostics.