Belfast Telegraph

Queen's in £2.2m study to reform care for prostate cancer sufferers

By Victoria O'Hara

Experts at Queen's University will lead a major study that aims to transform the standard of care and support for men diagnosed with prostate cancer.

The joint £2.2m project - the first of its kind in the UK - will analyse the experiences of more than 100,000 men who have a disease that claims the lives of around 200 in Northern Ireland every year.

Funded by Movember and Prostate Cancer UK, it will investigate wide-ranging issues that could affect a man after diagnosis, and will also examine if men of different ages, locations, ethnicities and socio-economic groups have different experiences.

By highlighting any gaps in services, the results of the Life After Prostate Cancer Diagnosis study will help shape changes to improve future care.

Among those who have battled prostate cancer - the most common cancer in men - are legendary actors Robert De Niro, who was diagnosed when he was 60 but was treated successfully, and Dennis Hopper, known for his role in Easy Rider. Hopper died in 2010 less than nine months after being diagnosed.

Dr Anna Gavin at Queen's University will be working with Dr Adam Glaser from the University of Leeds and other researchers at Oxford Brookes University, the University of Southampton, as well as Public Health England.

Dr Gavin, the director of the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry and clinical reader in the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at QUB, said the project will shine a spotlight on what men are really experiencing throughout their cancer journey.

"Maybe even after the cancer is gone, some men have problems dealing with the side-effects of treatment and don't know who to talk to, or are embarrassed about doing so - they may not even know if they're the only person feeling this way," she said.

"By responding to this research they will be helping bring those issues into the open so that they can be effectively addressed for years to come." The project will build on a pilot study led by the English Department of Health in 2012.

It found significant variation in how men were affected by prostate cancer, the level of impact of the disease on their lives, and how they coped with it.

The new research will take the form of a confidential postal survey sent to men across all four UK regions between next year and 2016.

Paul Villanti, director of programmes at the Movember Foundation, said the research was vital.

"We urgently need to know more if we are to ensure every man returns to feeling just as well as they did before their prostate cancer diagnosis and, for the first time, this unique initiative should enable us to discover the answers we need."

Dr Sarah Cant, director of policy and strategy at Prostate Cancer UK, said: "Ultimately, we want to improve the lives of men with prostate cancer, and this research should help us do just that."

If men would like to find out more about the project contact Amy Downing at the University of Leeds at a.downing@leeds.ac.uk.

Factfile

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. In the UK more than 41,000 are diagnosed each year and the condition leads to approximately 10,000 deaths a year. Every year approximately 200 men in Northern Ireland die from the disease, although it can often be successfully treated if caught early enough. It mainly affects men over the age of 50 and the risk increases with age. It accounts for 25% of all new cases of cancer in males. In 1990 both lung and bowel cancers were more common in males than prostate cancer, but by 1998 prostate cancer was the most common.

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