Prostate cancer diagnosis delays

The average time it takes for a man to receive a diagnosis of prostate cancer from first relevant presentation in England is 55 days. This compares to 14 days for breast cancer and the 28-day target that the NHS is working towards for 2020.

The data from the National Audit of Cancer Diagnosis is published in the British Journal of General Practice

As well as being one of the slowest times to diagnosis in the audit, GPs also identified avoidable delays in 22% of the prostate cancer diagnosis pathways. This compared to just 7% of breast cancer cases.

Heather Blake, Director of Support and Influencing at Prostate Cancer UK says: ‘It is clear that it often takes far too long to get a diagnosis for cancer in the UK. Part of the issue for prostate cancer is that until recently men with raised PSA levels only had an MRI scan after undergoing a biopsy – a procedure which often needs time to heal before an accurate MRI scan can take place.

‘The PROMIS trial earlier this year showed that prostate cancer diagnosis can be far more accurate if a man has a multi-parametric MRI (mpMRI) scan before the biopsy, which in turn can also help reduce waiting times due to cutting out the time lag in-between. This is the biggest leap forward in prostate cancer diagnosis for decades and we know that many areas of the UK are investigating ways to make pre-biopsy mpMRI a routine part of diagnosis for prostate cancer. We want every part of the UK to prioritise making the necessary changes so that men can benefit from the improved accuracy and speed of diagnosis as soon as possible, wherever they live.’

Only bladder cancer (56 days) and renal cancer (66 days) had slower times to diagnosis than prostate cancer.

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