Earlier this week, Prostate Cancer Research (PCR) submitted evidence to the parliamentary inquiry being carried out by the Health and Social Care Committee into men’s physical and mental health. Life expectancy for men is lower than for women and fell in 2020. The inquiry is an opportunity to consider the factors behind the difference.
As a charity that is dedicated to improving and saving the lives of people with prostate cancer, patients are central to everything we do and drive our work. We believe it is so important to listen to our patient community and learn about the real-life experiences of people affected by prostate cancer, so that when we submit evidence to inquiries such as this, we do so with your voice and your lived experience behind us.
The Health and Social Care committee is keen to understand why men have a 37% higher risk of dying from cancer overall and a 67% higher chance of dying from cancers that affect both men and women. In our evidence submission, PCR has highlighted that prostate cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in men in the UK, accounting for 14% of all male cancer deaths and 22% of all deaths among Black men.
In our evidence submission we highlighted three important factors.
Firstly, we gave an overview of the reasons why younger men with more advanced, aggressive disease have a greater risk of dying as a result of their prostate cancer than men diagnosed at an older age (except for those over 80). These factors include biological differences amongst younger men, family history, racial disparities and social and environmental factors, such as poor diet and lifestyle factors.
Secondly, we emphasised the importance of early diagnosis and the need for improvements in awareness. If caught at stages 1-3, prostate cancer has an extremely high one-year survival rate, which declines markedly at stage 4. The difference in mortality between those diagnosed with early stage and late-stage disease 5-years after diagnosis is starker still.
Finally, we focused on the on the challenges in delivery health equity across different groups of men, highlighting the need to build trust and provide tailored support and resources and the need to ensure greater diversity and inclusion in research.
By highlighting these three factors, PCR aims to encourage a greater focus on those areas where we see the greatest disparities in diagnosis, treatment and care, and where we can make the most significant difference and reduce men’s risk of dying from cancer.