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11 November 2014 11:43
The National Prostate Cancer Audit should be used to drive improvement, campaigners say
Campaigners have called for prostate cancer services to be improved while warning the gap in treatments across the country needs to be closed.
The call was made following the release of the first National Prostate Cancer Audit, which was set up to monitor how men with the condition are being treated and cared for across England and Wales.
With the audit revealing a "worrying" variation in the availability of the most up-to-date treatments and services, Prostate Cancer UK said it is imperative the report's recommendations are acted upon without delay.
Prostate Cancer UK c hief executive Owen Sharp said the audit helps build a "warts-and-all" picture of how NHS services are meeting the requirements of the some 40,000 men affected by the disease each year.
The audit could lead to better development of diagnosis, treatment and support of patients and their loved ones, aiding cancer patients to make a recovery, or become fit enough to enjoy a family holiday, for which specialist travel insurance for cancer patients can be arranged.
Despite improvements in access to "sophisticated diagnosis and treatment techniques" concerns were raised when it was discovered around half of men with prostate cancer do not receive all the support services they may require, such as access to cancer advisory centres, sexual function and continence advice as well as psychological counselling.
Such findings cannot be ignored, Mr Sharp stressed, with further data showing four out of five hospitals in England offer the most advanced radiotherapy.
Multiparametric MRI scans were found to only be available in three-quarters of English hospitals and two-thirds of Welsh institutions , while brachytherapy for advanced patients was only an option in a fifth of hospitals in England, the audit showed.
The report recommends that both advanced technologies should be made more widely available in hospitals.
Dr Heather Payne, the oncological lead in the NPCA audit, told the Times that the future aim would be for the quality of care for prostate cancer patients to be consistent across the country, so that "every man has access to the best treatment"
The NPCA audit of patient and clinical information will continue for at least the next five years.
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