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Although we live in a time of an extraordinary health challenge, advances in science and technology, coupled with a greater focus on holistic needs of patients are being used to diagnose and manage more people living with diseases than ever.

The tireless work of the medical community has created progress. People diagnosed with the earlier-stages of prostate cancer will likely receive a management approach that allows them to live out the rest of their lives - dying with prostate cancer, rather than from it. However, for those with more complex, or later stages of the disease many challenges remain. The pharmaceutical industry have accelerated efforts to explore new forms of treatment, management and diagnostics that could provide the opportunity for improved outcomes. But, to truly affect change and create impact at a national or international level, exchange and interconnectivity are key. Without this dialogue, innovation can become siloed and patients may not enjoy access to the best quality of care that they rightly deserve.

Achieving better outcomes together

Prior to the covid-19 pandemic approximately 129 men received a diagnosis of prostate cancer every day, in the UK.[1] Our ageing and growing population means that this number is predicted to have risen by as much as 12% by 2035.[2] 

The value of multidisciplinary care teams is well established. Enhanced understanding of unique care needs within the prostate cancer journey, gained through collaboration and knowledge exchange, is helping to create better outcomes for both patients and the healthcare professionals serving them. In the UK, and across Europe, this approach has been a driving force behind innovations that have resulted in the evolution of diagnostic and treatment programmes.

Opportunities to share these innovations and learnings have been affected by the covid-19 pandemic as a reduction in conferences, congresses, and the demanding workload healthcare professionals have all limited knowledge exchange. Aligning and learning from similar international programmes allow us to continue improving care. In addition, it can help to highlight opportunities alleviate some of the economic pressures that our health systems are facing. Pressures that are seldom unique to any one country.

Building lasting solutions

An independent study, led by KMPG and commissioned by Astellas, has shared findings which identify international best practice approaches to consider along the entire prostate cancer pathway. The study partnered with 20 prostate cancer centres – highly regarded for high-quality care - from across five European countries, including the UK, and documented their best practices.

Overall, 107 ‘best practice examples’ were observed. The examples represented seven different themes, and 27 were prioritised by an expert Steering Committee in terms of their potential impact on quality of care and ease of implementation.4 Critical, was an understanding of the impact that each practice could have on the patient’s quality of care. 

The best practices highlighted by the Steering Committee covered everything from urinary incontinence services to support patients in addressing side effects, right through to remote appointments and combined clinics. A notable best practice raised in the findings is the need to connect with others involved in the prostate cancer journey including external healthcare professionals, charities and patient organisations. This can generate a broader understanding of the disease landscape for all involved. In addition, it was noted that dedicated services to address side-effects could enhance patient quality of life and potentially reduce the likelihood of secondary complications. Established protocols and guidelines could ensure continuous monitoring and tracking of services to support the highest standards of care.

The progress made to date must continue for UK patients   

We are constantly moving in the right direction and it is not just cutting-edge, state of the art solutions that are needed. Better patient education can lead to more informed decisions, allowing patients to feel empowered throughout their prostate cancer journey. Providing information leaflets to help men gain a thorough understanding of the risks and benefits of PSA tests before requesting them, for example, has been trialled in several UK primary care centres, with positive results.[3],[4] Likewise, the introduction of psychosexual support at selected UK centres that support men and help to limit the potential impact treatment might have on relationships have been well received. So have the “one stop cancer shops” that have been trialled in London, allowing men to have an MRI scan and precision biopsy in the same day, reducing time to diagnosis and having an overarching benefit on wellbeing while awaiting diagnosis.[5],[6] 

With the insights from this report, it is our aim to gain greater understanding of the hurdles and unmet needs that remain in the management of prostate cancer patients. This will help us to collaborate and identify innovative solutions that could support better patient management and outcomes. 

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Reference links are provided for transparency. Astellas is not responsible for the content of these websites.

[1] Prostate Cancer UK. About prostate cancer. Available at: https://prostatecanceruk.org/prostate-information/about-prostate-cancer. Accessed: March 2022

[2] ORCHID Fighting Male Cancer. Prostate Cancer: Britain’s Growing Problem. April 2018. Available at: https://orchid-cancer.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/April-2018-Report-Spread-2.pdf. Accessed: March 2022.

[3] Watson E et al. Informed decision making and prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing for cancer: A randomised controlled trial exploring the impact of a brief patient decision aid on men’s knowledge, attitudes and intention to be tested. Patient Educ Couns. 2006;63(3) 2006:367 -379 379

[4] Tran VT et al. Impact of a printed decision aid on patients’ intention to undergo prostate cancer screening: multicentre, pragmatic, randomised, controlled trial in primary care. Brit J Gen Pract. 2015;65(634):295-304.

[5] Prostate Cancer UK. Reducing anxiety and depression through psychosexual therapy. 2014. Available at: https://prostatecanceruk.org/for-health-professionals/our-work-with-trusts/relate. Accessed: March 2022.

[6] Charing Cross Hospital in world leading approach to diagnosing prostate cancer. 2018. Available at: https://www.imperial.nhs.uk/about-us/news/world-leading-rapid-pathway#:~:text=Charing%20Cross%20Hospital%2C%20part%20of,weeks%20to%20just%20one%20week. Accessed: March 2022.

NON_2022_0010_UK / March 2022