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Health: Prostate Cancer

Volume 691: debated on Wednesday 9 May 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have any proposals to bring in regular prostate screening for men. [HL3517]

The Government are committed to introducing a national population screening programme for prostate cancer if and when screening and treatment techniques are sufficiently well developed for such a programme to be introduced.

The department is supporting the development of screening technology for prostate cancer by having a comprehensive research strategy into all aspects of prostate cancer. We are, jointly with other National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) members, funding two NCRI prostate cancer research collaborative; the department is funding half the total £7.4 million cost. Following a review of progress by an international expert panel, the department, Cancer Research UK and the Medical Research Council have agreed to provide a further three years’ funding of £3.9 million.

The research undertaken by the collaboratives covers all aspects of prostate cancer and has already generated the groundbreaking discovery of the overactive E2F3 gene in prostate cancer tumours. This discovery not only provides the potential to identify those at risk of developing the disease but for the first time allows prediction of how aggressive the cancer will be. Research is under way to turn this into a diagnostic test so that we can identify patients whose prostate cancers are aggressive and urgently need treatment.

It is important to note that, for a screening technology to contribute to saving lives, effective treatments for the disease detected are essential. That is why the department is funding a £20 million trial of treatments for prostate-specific antigen screen-detected early prostate cancer (the ProtecT trial).