European healthcare systems are failing to deliver the latest medical breakthroughs to men with advanced prostate cancer, according to a new report.
Compiled and funded by Astellas Pharma Europe and contributed to by doctors and patient groups from across Europe, Every Month Matters: Improving Advanced Prostate Cancer Care in Europe is the first report of its kind to take an in-depth look at the changing landscape of advanced prostate cancer treatment.
Astellas currently develops the Xtandi prostate cancer drug with partner Medivation, and said at the recent launch of its new UK headquarters in Chertsey last year that oncology would become one of its main focuses for future growth.
Its report found that despite prostate cancer being the most common malignancy in men, patients with advanced disease face a lottery in the standard of care they receive, with discrepancies in access to the latest treatment advances depending on the country they live in.
It also found that not all healthcare systems in Europe are keeping pace with scientific and medical advances. For example, UK cancer patients have to wait longer than those in France to access new oncology treatments.
In addition, in a study of six western European countries, France had the highest use of oncology drugs, followed respectively by Spain, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the UK, according to the report – but this usage did not always reflect differences in the number of cancer cases in these countries.
Access to an ideal therapy is one of the most important reasons for international differences in cancer survival, and UK mortality rates for prostate cancer are higher than those in neighbouring countries, the authors note.
“With advanced prostate cancer we are dealing with an incurable disease and every month matters for these men. Placing patients at the heart of the care pathway and ensuring access to the right treatment approaches mean that extra time and a good quality of life is now possible,” said Dr Heather Payne, consultant clinical oncologist, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and report contributor.
“But this is not happening in every country. There are many reasons for international differences in cancer survival, but swift access to innovative treatments and the availability of best practice care are important in order to deliver the best outcomes in terms of life extension and quality of life.”
Underfunding for prostate cancer
The report found that prostate cancer research is frequently underfunded compared with other malignancies and there is little focus on advanced disease, despite the fact that up to 20% of men who receive a prostate cancer diagnosis already have metastatic disease. The report calls for improved resourcing for advanced prostate cancer, whilst acknowledging the continuing efforts put in to treating early disease.
To coincide with the report launch and reveal the impact of advanced prostate cancer on men and their families, a short film has been released, which tells the story of Matt, who is living with advanced prostate cancer. Matt notes that “Every month matters to me because every month is a gift, it’s time with my family I didn’t think I would have. If this initiative helps in even just a small way to increase awareness of advanced prostate cancer then it will have all been very worthwhile.”
To find out more about Every Month Matters and to view the patient impact film visit www.Everymonthmatters.org.