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The Lancet Oncology

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Call to Action to Prevent Deaths from Prostate Cancer in Europe

A coalition of influential European advocacy and professional groups are meeting today to call for action by the European Parliament to commit to serious steps to reduce the number of men affected by, and dying from prostate cancer, by ensuring timely access to information, care and support services for men at risk or with prostate cancer.

The call to action is being launched during European Urology Week, as part of a new campaign, the Proactive Prostates Initiative, at a meeting in Antwerp, which is being hosted by Europa Uomo and the European Association of Urology (EAU).

Speaking at the meeting 'Prostate Cancer: Establishing the Facts', where representatives included the European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC), the European Association of Urology (EAU) and Members of the European Parliament (MEPs against cancer), Prof Louis Denis of Europa Uomo said: 'We need to do more to combat prostate cancer and stop men dying or living with the burden of the disease, when so much can be done to improve awareness of earlier diagnosis and access to the right resources, services and treatments at the right time.'

Prostate cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in European men. More than 300,000 men are diagnosed in Europe with prostate cancer every year and approximately one of five will die from the disease. These statistics are similar to breast cancer. Three-quarters of prostate cancer cases are in men over 65 years. With an increasingly ageing population, the prevalence of prostate cancer and the burden associated with this disease is set to rise.

'I urge society to sit up and take notice of prostate cancer so that we can beat this disease, yes we can", said Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the South African Nobel Peace Prize Laureate who has had prostate cancer, and fully supports the call to action.

The future for prostate cancer is not a bright one unless there is societal commitment to changing the way the disease is viewed. An increasingly ageing population means that the burdens associated with the disease will also rise, creating serious social and economic consequences.

The coalition is calling for action from society, governments, healthcare professionals and men in adopting a more proactive stance towards prostate cancer to prevent the serious burden of disease and deaths from prostate cancer.

The call to action emphasizes the need for:

  • Recognition by governments of the morbidity and mortality burdens of prostate cancer, so that it can be made a higher priority in their health agenda.
  • Commitment from governments to ensuring sustainable support for basic research for a new biomarker and clinical research on treatment comparison.
  • Health professionals to educate their patients about the risk factors for prostate cancer, such as family history, ensuring those at risk are given appropriate information
  • Physicians to tailor treatment according to the individual patient, avoiding over- and under-treatment, through appropriate use of PSA testing to ensure that men receive the right treatment
  • A drive to help society unite and build partnerships in helping to reduce the burden of the disease as well as identify common action and reducing the existing inequalities on access to treatment.
Images courtesy American Society of Clinical oncology (ASCO)

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