Prostate Cancer UK shared the figures showing that urgent referrals have dropped by half in England overall and are now at their lowest levels in 10 years.
Although they say the picture is beginning to improve, referrals in June were still 33.2 per cent lower in the West Midlands than in 2019 – putting men with higher-risk cancers at risk of being diagnosed too late to be cured unless referrals go back up to pre-pandemic levels.
The leading men’s health charity is encouraging all men at increased risk of prostate cancer to contact their GP to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of a PSA blood test, which can give them an indication of any problems with their prostate.
This includes men over 50, particularly black men, and those with a family history of the disease. As most men do not experience any symptoms until the disease has spread and become incurable, it is critical that men with these risk factors take action.
Celebrities who are motivated by the cause, such as broadcaster Bill Turnbull and EastEnders actor Davood Ghadami, as well as clinicians such as TV’s Dr Sarah Jarvis and GP Dr Richard Roope have joined the charity’s campaign to raise awareness of the disease and encourage men at increased prostate cancer risk to have these vital conversations with GPs.
To help men find out whether they are at increased risk of developing the disease, Prostate Cancer UK has launched an online risk checker, available at www.prostatecanceruk.org/riskcheck.
Angela Culhane, chief executive at Prostate Cancer UK, said: “Earlier this year, we announced that prostate cancer had become the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the UK, thanks largely to a greater awareness of the disease in recent years.
"Detecting prostate cancer earlier helps save lives, but Covid-19 has made it harder for men to visit their doctor this year – especially if they don’t feel unwell or have no symptoms.
“As a result, we estimate there could be 3,500 men in England with a higher-risk prostate cancer which has not yet been diagnosed.
"If we don’t act now, we could face a future where thousands of men are diagnosed too late.”