8 January 2019

Policy makers across Europe need to change strategy

Politicians and policy makers across Europe need to change strategy to improve diagnosis, treatment and quality of life for men with prostate cancer. That is the message from Europa Uomo Chairman André Deschamps, in an article expressing concern that prostate cancer mortality rates are no longer decreasing across Europe.

Deschamps points out that in some countries there is a significant increase in the number of cancers being detected at a late stage. A recent Europa Uomo questionnaire, with responses from 24 European states, found that less than 50% of men are aware of prostate cancer and that PSA-led early detection is promoted by healthcare professionals in only half of the countries.

“We as patients urge our politicians and policymakers to adopt a change in strategy,” writes Deschamps, in an article for Health Europa Quarterly. He calls for public awareness campaigns, active encouragement of PSA testing (within EAU guidelines) and treatment in multidisciplinary cancer centres.

“Some countries are still discouraging PSA-led early detection and claim that they do not harm their citizens with this,” he writes. “The arguments are mostly: less costs for the healthcare system, avoiding over treatment and that this policy has no influence on mortality rates.”

But these are false economies, he points out. Early diagnosis is relatively cheap: a PSA test costs less than €10, an MRI scan approximately €300. But the cost of treatment in the late metastatic phase, which can extend life by two years, is €500,000.

“Over-treatment has been and still is a problem. But it does not need to be. The scientific methods are available to avoid it. PSA results are now used much more smartly than they were.” It is important that interpretation and subsequent treatment are carried out at multidisciplinary cancer centres, he added.