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Charity warns 'short sighted' NICE risks compromising care of men with prostate cancer

Men with prostate cancer are at risk of being left behind those with other common cancers thanks to a spate of recent moves by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), The Prostate Cancer Charity has warned.

Speaking at a special drop-in event at the Houses of Parliament, The Prostate Cancer Charity’s Chief Executive Owen Sharp, claimed that -short sighted NICE decision makers were compromising the needs of men with prostate cancer as the Charity unveils its own vision for the care of men with the disease across the country.

Referring to a two year delay to the development of a quality standard for prostate cancer by NICE, in his opening speech at the ‘Quality Care. Everywhere’ campaign event, Sharp said:

Men with prostate cancer are no strangers to having to fight to gain access to the treatment and care they need. Delays in the development of national standards of care mean that many men continue not to be fully supported when they need it most. In the past, similar delays have led to men reporting a worse experience of care than people with other common cancers. We do not want to repeat these mistakes.

NICE is incredibly short sighted when it comes to men with prostate cancer. Along with other decisions, such as refusing to recommend vital treatments for men dying of the disease, they are in danger of jeopardising what little progress has been made for men.

A recent survey by the Charity, as well as evidence from the latest National Cancer Patient Experience Survey, shows that a significant number of men with prostate cancer are still not getting the support and information they need and wide regional variation in the standard of care men in England can expect still persists1,2. Unfortunately, NICE’s decision to delay the development of quality standards for prostate cancer until 2013 means this variation is at risk of increasing.

In the absence of formal standards, the Charity has now taken matters in to its own hands. After a wide-ranging consultation with people affected by prostate cancer, it has compiled a draft set of standards that set out what good quality care looks like. Alongside with campaigners in Westminster today, they are calling for MPs and policy makers to support these standards and help push through their speedy development.

Sharp continued:

-Choosing which treatment to have can be a minefield for men with prostate cancer and many are simply not getting the level of support and information they need to navigate this. We cannot afford to wait for NICE to stop dragging its heels. We are proud to have developed our own set of standards, with men at their heart, and urge MPs to pledge their support for them. A Quality Standard for breast cancer ‘the most common cancer in women’ was published almost two years ago, yet men with prostate cancer are forced to wait. We must move swiftly to change this inequity.

The Charity is calling on MPs to show their support for the campaign by publicising the draft standards to their constituents so that as many people affected by the disease as possible can feed in their views.

John Baron MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cancer, has thrown his backing to the initiative. He said: “I very much support the work The Prostate Cancer Charity is doing to identify standards of quality prostate cancer care. It is unacceptable that the quality of prostate cancer services varies across the country. The charity’s work will help to redress some of these inequalities and I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting this work.”

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