Prostate cancer research 'lagging'

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Close-up of prostate cancer cells
Image caption,
Experts are working on better tests for prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is the poor relation when it comes to funding for research to find a cure, says a charity.

Though it is the most common male cancer, prostate cancer is 20th in the league table of research funding, says Prostate Cancer UK, which is launching a campaign to highlight the issue.

It has been said that the disease will be the UK's most common cancer by 2030.

The Department of Health said prostate cancer was a key target of its efforts to improve cancer survival rates.

Comedian Bill Bailey will front the campaign being launched by Prostate Cancer UK.

Owen Sharp, the charity's chief executive, said: "Prostate cancer is simply not on the radar in the UK. Even though it kills one man every hour - that's 10,000 men each year - most men and women don't know enough about it.

"We need to follow the lead of the successful female movement against breast cancer and create a real change for men."

According to the charity, breast cancer - the most common female cancer, which has a similar death rate to prostate cancer - received more than double the annual research spend - £853 per breast cancer case diagnosed, compared to £417 for prostate cancer.

Leukaemia got the most research funding - £3,903 per case diagnosed - charitable and government funds data for 2009 and 2011 show.

Every year in the UK, over 40,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer. Although it is one of the more treatable types of cancer, particularly if diagnosed early, one man dies every hour from it, says Prostate Cancer UK.

Dr Julie Sharp of Cancer Research UK said: "We fund the best science we can to make the greatest impact - we don't have quotas for specific types of cancer.

"Last year, Cancer Research UK spent £332 million on research into cancers that affect both men and women, including basic research that can help improve our understanding of all cancers, and we spent nearly £20 million of this specifically on prostate cancer research.

"We want to bring closer the day when all cancers are cured and it's research that will help us to do this."

Prostate cancer rates have been rising, partly because men are living longer (cancer risk increases with age) and also because more cancers are being detected through widespread use of PSA testing.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: "As part of our commitment to improving cancer survival, including ensuring better treatments for all patients, we have invested £104 million into cancer research over the past year.

"Improving outcomes for men with cancer will be essential in meeting this aim. That is why we are investing £35 million in the biggest publicly funded clinical trial ever to take place in this country to look at the effectiveness of treatments for prostate cancer."

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