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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 November, 2004, 11:28 GMT
Prostate cancer care improves
Prostate images
Prostate cancer is the second most common form of the disease amongst UK men
Men in England who have prostate cancer are being seen quicker and receiving better care, a government report shows.

It examines the progress made in the management of the disease since the NHS Prostate Cancer Programme was introduced four years ago.

Around 98% of men with suspected prostate cancer see a consultant within two weeks of an urgent referral by a GP, compared to 40% in 1997.

Prostate cancer campaigners welcomed the report but called for more action.

We are still in the foothills of the battle against prostate cancer, with a mountain still to climb
John Neate, The Prostate Cancer Charity

Dr Chris Parker, of the Prostate Cancer Charter for Action, said: "Prostate cancer is a big killer and it is right we continue to make tackling prostate cancer our priority.

"Although there has been encouraging progress on tackling prostate cancer there is still a lot to do".

The NHS Prostate Cancer Programme was the first of its kind, and aimed to focus attention on the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men in England and the second biggest cancer killer in men.

Prostate cancer is the only cancer with a government spending target for research - the target of £4.2 million was reached in 2003/04.

In addition, the number of consultant urologists has increased by 40% - to a total of 503 consultants now compared to 343 in 1997.

'Pioneering techniques'

Launching the report, Health Minister, Lord Warner said: "We take prostate cancer very seriously.

"That is why four years ago we published the programme to give prostate cancer the priority it deserves.

"As a result a lot of excellent progress has been made. Patients are being seen more quickly and are getting better care."

He added: "Making sure patients have access to the latest treatments is key to reducing the suffering caused by this condition - that is why prostate cancer is the only cancer to have a specific target for government spending on research.

"This will help to ensure that patients get the benefit of pioneering new techniques like high intensity focused ultrasound for which clinical trials are due to begin early next year."

John Neate, chief executive of The Prostate Cancer Charity, said: "The government's report provides an essential round-up of advances made across the board over the past four years in prostate cancer research, NHS services and information.

"It will form an important baseline for evaluating future improvements."

But he added: "We are still in the foothills of the battle against prostate cancer, with a mountain still to climb.

"We need to see a continuing revolution in our approach to this major disease - with increased investment in professional staff, strengthened NHS team working, ¿male friendly' primary care services and focused research to secure improved prostate cancer testing and treatments."


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