Prostate cancer should be higher on government health agendas recognising its importance as the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men, urges a call to action launched recently by Europa Uomo, a coalition of patients' groups across Europe.

"We need action, not just hollow words, to reduce the growing problem of prostate cancer," warned Tom Hudson, Chairman of Europa Uomo at a meeting to launch the call to action held in Antwerp, Belgium (18 September, 2009).

"Men tend to have a private way of dealing with their health, which means they may delay seeking help. It is only by raising awareness of prostate cancer, and alerting the public to the early signs, that we can move forward," explained Mr Hudson. The call to action is asking governments across Europe to ensure that more people know about prostate cancer, and how it is diagnosed and treated, he explained.

The Proactive Prostates Initiative, which is supported by educational grants from the European Association of Urology and GlaxoSmithKline, is also calling on governments to commit to providing sustainable support for basic research in prostate cancer, including research for new biomarkers and studies comparing outcomes with different treatments.

In addition, it is recommending that health professionals should be encouraged to take an individualised approach to treatment, tailoring management to each patients guided by prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing.

Underlining the support for action at an EU level, Frieda Brepoels, a Member of the European Parliament from Belgium, suggested that prostate cancer is relatively neglected compared to breast cancer, despite their similar prevalence. "We need more research in prostate cancer, and the development of policies on treatment and screening," she told the launch meeting.

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men, accounting for 24.1% of all cases, according to recent figures. And it is the third leading cause of cancer deaths, Mr Hudson noted. But despite its high prevalence, early half of men underestimate their risk of prostate cancer, a recent European survey warned.

The Proactive Prostates Initiative Call to Action can be found at www.europa-uomo

Susan Mayor PhD.
Susan Mayor PhD, freelance medical journalist, London, UK

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