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Prostate cancer deaths reduced by 20 per cent

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Death rates from prostate cancer have fallen by 20 per cent since the early 1990s, according to figures released by Cancer Research UK.

The number of deaths peaked in the early 90s when there were around 30 deaths per 100,000 men but this figure has fallen to around 24 deaths per 100,000.

The reduction is thought to be due to new approaches to treating prostate cancer such as earlier, more widespread use of hormone therapy, radical surgery and radiotherapy, as well as the earlier diagnosis of some cancers linked to the use of the prostate specific antigen test.

Martin Ledwick, Cancer Research UK's head information nurse, has warned that the symptoms for prostate cancer are similar to a number of benign and harmless conditions. He said it's worth patients being aware of the symptoms and getting anything unusual checked out with their GP.

'Things such as having to rush to the toilet to pass urine and difficulty urinating should be checked out, especially if it's getting you up several times during the night,' he said.

Dr Anne Mackie, director of programmes, UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC), was pleased with these figures but admits that more needs to be done.

'The UK NSC has been following the research developments for a long time and we hope to eventually be able to recommend a new national screening programme for prostate cancer. However, PSA testing is not currently up to the job and at the moment a screening programme would do more harm than good for many thousands of men. This is because PSA isn't wholly accurate at detecting prostate cancer (a proportion of cases will be missed) and there is not enough known about benign and aggressive forms of the cancer.'

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