Prostate cancer has overtaken breast cancer to become the third deadliest type of the disease in Britain, new research has found.
For the first time, figures show that more men are dying from prostate cancer than women from breast cancer, amid warnings from charities and health campaigners that more investment is needed.
The research, published today by Prostate Cancer UK, reveals that 11,819 men died of prostate cancer in 2015, the equivalent of one every 45 minutes, compared with 11,442 women who died of breast cancer.
To halt the rise, the charity estimates that more than £120m in research funding is needed to make sufficient advances in research, screening and treatment.
Although the mortality rate for breast cancer has continued to fall steadily since the Nineties, the number of men dying from prostate cancer has risen by more than 20 per cent during the same period.
Lung cancer and bowel cancer remain the deadliest cancers in the UK, with more than 50,000 people dying of the diseases annually.
Prostate and Breast cancer deaths in UK
Whilst welcoming advances in breast cancer treatment, Prostate Cancer UK said that levels of funding for prostate cancer had been significantly lower, meaning efforts to tackle the disease are trailing behind.
Since 2002, more than £520m has been invested in tackling breast cancer, more than double the amount received for prostate treatment and research.
Scientific research into the disease has also been lower historically, with just 72,513 papers on prostate cancer published since 1999, compared with more than 146,000 on breast cancer.
“With half the investment and half the research it’s not surprising that progress in prostate cancer is lagging behind,” said Angela Culhane, the charity’s chief executive.
“However, the good news is that many of these developments could be applied to prostate cancer and we’re confident that with the right funding, we can dramatically reduce deaths within the next decade.
“The wheels are already in motion to turn these statistics around. Plans to create an accurate test fit for use as part of a nationwide prostate cancer screening programme, as well as developing new treatments for advanced prostate cancer are already well underway.
“However, to achieve these aims we need to increase our investment in research. We’re calling on the nation to sign up to a March for Men this summer to help raise the funds we desperately need to stop prostate cancer being a killer.”
The facts | Prostate cancer
Due to an ageing population, the number of men dying from prostate cancer has continued to rise despite survival rates being 2.5 times higher than they were 30 years ago.
In a bid to reverse the trend, Prostate Cancer UK has recently invested £2m into developing tests which it hopes will eventually be adopted into a national screening programme.
Currently, the NHS does not have a national screening for PSA testing, but men aged 50 or over can have tests if they ask for them.
More than £1.4m has also been invested into developing tailored treatments for men at advanced stages of the disease, which it hopes will extend the lives of 9,000 patients annually.
Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer for men in the UK, with 47,000 diagnoses annually.