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Diagnosis of late-stage prostate cancer at all-time high

Charity calls on men and GPs to be more aware of risk factors, signs and symptoms

Mark Gould

Tuesday, 03 September 2019

As diagnosis of late-stage prostate cancer reaches an all-time high, men's cancer charity Orchid is calling for men and healthcare professionals to be more aware of signs and symptoms.

The latest figures* show that 42.5% of men are diagnosed when their cancer is at stage 3 or 4.
They follow a five-year trend and are coupled with statistics from a survey, commissioned by Orchid, released for Male Cancer Awareness Week this week. Orchid says they highlight that awareness of prostate cancer risk factors amongst GPs is worryingly low, particularly in relation to ethnicity and family history.

The survey found:

  • Only 5% named ethnicity as a primary risk factor, despite black African and black Caribbean men being twice as likely to develop the disease as other men
  • Less than half of all GPs surveyed recognised that family history and age are primary risk factors, despite family history potentially doubling a man’s risk and incidence being highest in the over 50’s
  • 15% of GPs mistakenly thought infections such as HPV were a primary risk factor for prostate cancer

Orchid’s chief executive, Rebecca Porta is calling on GPs to consider prostate cancer risk even before men present with symptoms.

“We know from previous research that 60% of men are not confident in recognising the symptoms of prostate cancer and 31% have no knowledge of the disease so the GP-patient interface is essential to reverse the continued increase in late-stage diagnosis. Whilst we appreciate that GP time is limited, we urge them to incorporate a prostate cancer awareness discussion into every consultation with at-risk men”.


Late diagnosis can reduce chances of survival, limit treatment options or result in more invasive interventions. Orchid’s F.A.C.E. up to prostate cancer campaign is therefore encouraging GPs, men and their families to be aware of four key risk factors and for men and their family doctor to discuss any concerns in order to achieve earlier stage diagnosis:

  • Family history - having a brother or father with prostate cancer may double a man’s risk compared to men with no family history of the disease.
  • Age - the older a man gets the greater the risk, with prostate cancer most commonly affecting men over the age of 50.
  • Change in urinary habits – changes in urinary habits are not always a sign of prostate cancer but they can be a symptom.
  • Ethnicity - black African and black Caribbean men are at double the risk of developing prostate cancer than other men and may develop the disease earlier too, most commonly affecting men from this group over 45.

*Stage breakdown by CCG 2017: TNM stage group by CCG by tumour type for 10+3 tumour types, 2012-2017. National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service, 2019.

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