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Mens Health Q4 2021

Prostate cancer care over the last 25 years

iStock / Getty Images Plus / Zoran Zeremski

Meg Burgess

Prostate Cancer UK Specialist Nurse

Meg Burgess, Prostate Cancer UK Specialist Nurse, has been working in prostate cancer care for over 25 years. She discusses how much things have changed in that time.


When I worked as a urology nurse at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in the 80s and 90s, many of the prostate cancer patients I worked with had advanced cancer. Treatments were limited and often very damaging while support, awareness and medical understanding were nowhere near the levels they are today. 

A changing picture

Thankfully, a lot has changed since then and men are now living longer with prostate cancer than ever before. Investment in better research means that there are many more treatment options available, with more being approved all the time. 

Diagnosis has improved dramatically, with more men than ever being diagnosed at an early stage, when their cancer is still curable. There’s now more support on offer, with widespread access to specialist nurses, support groups and quality health information. 

Prostate cancer mainly affects men over 50, but the risk is higher for black men or men with a family history of prostate cancer. 

The impact of COVID-19

Despite all these improvements, the pandemic has had a big impact on prostate cancer care, with urgent referrals dropping by around 55,000 during the peak of the crisis.1 Although they’ve since returned to more normal levels, there are still lots of men missing from the system who are yet to be diagnosed.

That’s why it’s so important that more men are aware of their risk. Prostate cancer mainly affects men over 50, but the risk is higher for black men or men with a family history of prostate cancer. 

Early prostate cancer doesn’t usually have symptoms, so these men should consider speaking to their GP about the pros and cons of a PSA test. You can find out more about risk using Prostate Cancer UK’s free online risk checker.

Looking to the future 

It would be fantastic if we were able to provide a screening programme with something better than the PSA test – to find more prostate cancers at an early stage and reduce the number of men diagnosed with advanced disease. 

With more exciting research coming through all the time, I’m more hopeful than ever that we’ll get to a place soon where men’s lives aren’t limited by prostate cancer. 


Anyone with concerns about prostate cancer can contact Prostate Cancer UK’s Specialist Nurses on 0800 074 8383 or visit prostatecanceruk.org/nurses

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