The number of men dying from prostate cancer has overtaken the number of women dying from breast cancer for the first time, with the disease now the UK’s third biggest cancer killer.

The new data released by Prostate Cancer UK shows that 11,819 men now die from prostate cancer every year in the UK - the equivalent of one man every 45 minutes. This compares to 11,442 women who die from breast cancer.

Lung cancer and bowel cancer remain the top two cancer responsible for claiming most lives in the country from the disease.

According to the charity, the number of women dying from breast cancer has been steadily decreasing since 1999, but the same downward death trend has not been observed for prostate cancer.

“Over the same period breast cancer has benefitted from a screening programme, significant investments in research and there have been more than double the number of published breast cancer studies compared to prostate cancer studies,” the press release notes.

The charity stressed that the increase in the number of men dying from prostate cancer is largely because of the ageing population, and does not depict a worsening situation for patients; men diagnosed now with the disease are 2.5 times more likely to live for ten years or more than if they were diagnosed in 1990.

“With half the investment and half the research it’s not surprising that progress in prostate cancer is lagging behind. However, the good news is that many of these developments could be applied to prostate cancer and we’re confident that with the right funding, we can dramatically reduce deaths within the next decade,” said Prostate Cancer UK chief executive Angela Culhane.

The charity said it would need to fund around £120 million of research over the next eight years to reverse the trend and achieve the ten-year goal of halving the number of expected prostate cancer deaths by 2026.