Scotland

Prostate cancer death rates in Scotland fall

  • 1 November 2013
  • From the section Scotland
Prostate gland
Image caption The prostate gland surrounds the neck of the bladder in men

Death rates from prostate cancer in Scotland have fallen by 18% in the past 20 years, according to figures compiled by a leading charity.

Cancer Research UK (CRUK) said the downward trend is largely the result of new approaches to treating the cancer.

Each year 2,700 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in Scotland.

From a peak in the early 1990s when there were about 29 deaths per 100,000 men in the population, there are now about 24 deaths per 100,000.

The charity said the improved treatment includes earlier and more widespread use of hormone therapy, radical surgery and radiotherapy.

It also cited earlier diagnosis linked to the use of the PSA test.

Prof Hing Leung of CRUK, who is based at the Beatson Institute in Glasgow, said: "This new report shows we've come a long way in improving the treatment of prostate cancer in the last couple of decades. And improvements in how we treat prostate cancer have been key to reducing deaths of men diagnosed with the disease.

"But a lot more work still needs to be done.

"We still don't understand why some prostate cancers turn out be harmless - the grass snakes - while others are aggressive - the vipers - and resistant to treatment."

Martin Ledwick, CRUK's head information nurse, said: "The symptoms for prostate cancer are similar to a number of benign and harmless conditions but it's worth being aware of them and getting anything unusual checked out with your GP.

"Things such as having to rush to the toilet to pass urine and difficulty urinating should be checked out, especially if it's getting you up several times during the night.

"It's also worth remembering prostate cancer is more common in men over the age 60, anyone who has had a relative diagnosed with the disease and men of African-Caribbean descent."

But Drew Lindon, head of policy and campaign at Prostate Cancer UK, said the figures referred to "potentially misleading death rates over the last 20 years".

He added: "The raw statistics over the same period tell a very different story.

"In 1990 1,348 men in Scotland were diagnosed with prostate cancer, compared to 2,679 in 2010 - an increase of 99%. Over the same period the number of men dying from the disease increased from 651 to 900 - an increase of 38%.

"Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, and the number of men being diagnosed with and dying from the disease continues to increase at an alarming rate. By 2030 it is predicted to be the most common cancer overall.

"Whilst it is undoubtedly the case that many improvements in care and support have been made over recent years it would be wrong for anyone to be of the impression that this mission has yet been accomplished, or that the danger posed by this terrible disease was in any way diminishing."

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