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Prostate becomes third most deadly cancer in UK, overtaking breast cancer

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A man dies from prostate cancer every 45 minutes

Deaths from prostate cancer in men have overtaken female deaths from breast cancer for the first time in the UK, new figures reveal.

Prostate Cancer UK reports that one man dies every 45 minutes from the disease.

Although lung and bowel still remain the biggest cancer killers in the UK, prostate cancer has now risen to third place, displacing breast cancer.

The number of deaths from prostate cancer reached 11,819 in 2015 (latest figures), compared to 11,442 for breast cancer.

Explanations for such a rise have been the effect of an ageing population, which means men are living longer and thus developing and dying from the disease more.

Prostate Cancer UK said investment in breast cancer diagnosis and treatment were paying off, while prostate cancer was receiving half the attention.

‘With half the investment and half the research it's not surprising that progress in prostate cancer is lagging behind,’ said Angela Culhane, Prostate Cancer UK's chief executive.

‘We're confident that with the right funding, we can dramatically reduce deaths within the next decade.’

Prostate cancer, according to the charity, has had around 70,000 research papers on it since 1999, while breast cancer has had more than 140,000.

They are recommending £120 million to be invested in research over the next decade in order to halve the number of prostate cancer deaths by 2026.

It is important to note that while deaths from prostate cancer are on the rise, the mortality rate – the proportion of men who have the disease that die – has fallen by 6% between 2010-15. Although, the corresponding figure for breast cancer is 10%, meaning deaths in women are falling faster.

‘If we take into account our growing and ageing population, the death rate for both breast and prostate cancer is falling, though it is falling faster for breast than prostate cancer,’ said Michael Chapman, director of information and involvement at Cancer Research UK.

‘We haven’t yet got the big game-changing advances that breast cancer has had in terms of the screening programme and also the precision medicine developments,’ added Culhane.

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