A new approach to identifying and treating the 40,000 men who are diagnosed with Prostate cancer in the UK has been announced as part of an ambitious research project funded by Cancer Research UK. The idea is that by identifying the men who are likely to develop prostate cancer, a more 'personalised approach' to screening is carried out, which looks closely at the man's age,history of prostate cancer and in particular at the genes which increase the risk of prostate cancer. If they are found, to be in the,' at risk' category they will be targeted for screening. Which, will result in fewer deaths, and save the NHS millions of pounds.
Currently men in the UK aged 40 to 79 are offered the PSA test by their GP's, which is offered by the NHS routinely every four years. But, it's not an accurate indicator of whether a man does have cancer and cannot reliably tell if a cancer is aggressive and so needs treatment. So this unreliability means the test can't be used as part of a national screening programme.
The 'personalised approach' model also showed 50% fewer men would need to be screened and 18% fewer men would be diagnosed with the disease – possibly reducing the problem of over-diagnosis and saving men from unnecessary treatment that can lead to side effects like impotence and incontinence.
Written and presented by Ann Salter