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Medical negligence lawyer welcomes plans for biggest prostate cancer screening project in decades and shares key advice and symptoms to be aware of

The government has joined Prostate Cancer UK to unveil a £42 million screening trial to find ways of detecting the UK’s most common male cancer earlier.

Hundreds of thousands of men have been invited to participate in a major new screening trial which will use innovative screening methods to detect prostate cancer in its earliest stages. The first-of-its-kind trial, called TRANSFORM, will use screening tools such as MRI scans rather than blood tests.

Researchers will start setting up the trial in spring 2024 with recruitment due to begin in autumn 2024. Men who are at higher risk of prostate cancer due to their age and ethnicity will be the ones recruited through their GP practice and invited to a screening visit. 

Black men are particularly vulnerable to prostate cancer and are both twice as likely to develop prostate cancer and twice as likely to die from the disease. There will be a particular focus on this group in the trial with a target that one in 10 invited to participate will be black men aged between 45 and 75.

What is prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK but there's currently no screening programme for the disease. Men who develop prostate cancer usually display no symptoms until the cancer has grown large, at which point it may be more difficult to treat.

Common symptoms of prostate cancer include

  • Needing to pee more frequently, often during the night.
  • Needing to rush to the toilet.
  • Difficulty in starting to pee (hesitancy)
  • Straining or taking a long time while peeing.
  • Weak flow.
  • Feeling that your bladder has not emptied fully.
  • Blood in urine or blood in semen.

The statistics

Each day in the UK, an estimated 144 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer on average. Around 490,000 men are currently living with or after the disease.

Sadly, 12,000 men die of prostate cancer every year in the UK. 

Developing an effective screening programme for the disease could help to identify these men before their cancer spreads and help to save lives.

The hope is that some of the new screening methods being deployed in the TRANSFORM trial could give more accurate results than current blood tests, which can miss some cancers and often suggest the presence of prostate cancer when no cancer exists. 

Crucially, innovation in screening for prostate cancer may develop methods of detecting the cancer in its early stages when the disease is still symptomless.

Routine testing will save thousands of lives

Laura Kerby, chief executive of Prostate Cancer UK, has said that prostate cancer is the most common cancer that, until now, hasn't been the subject of a national screening programme. 

She said: “It’s about time that changed. This will finally give us the answers we need to develop a routine testing system and save thousands of men each year”. 

It's hoped that the TRANSFORM trial will generate high quality long-term evidence to benefit men at risk of developing prostate cancer and help to inform those who plan and deliver NHS services of how best to test for the disease. 

Ali Orhan, CEO at the male cancer charity Orchid, one of our charity partners at Irwin Mitchell says: “We hope that this new trial will help pave the way in reducing inequalities that currently exist within prostate cancer.”

Providing legal support to those affected by prostate cancer

Through my work as a medical negligence solicitor, I see first-hand the impact cancer has on not only those diagnosed with the disease but loved ones.   

Not only can people be affected physically, I understand the psychological effects that a prostate cancer misdiagnosis or a delay in diagnosis can have – especially if people have been told that their symptoms were less serious in the first stages of treatment.

If you believe that you or a loved one haven’t received appropriate treatment or there has been a delay in diagnosis, then you can speak to a specialist solicitor. They can advise you on whether you may have a legal claim for compensation.

At Irwin Mitchell we've helped many clients claim compensation after suffering from cases of prostate cancer misdiagnosis by GPs and other medical professionals. Some of the most common misdiagnoses of prostate cancer include:

  • Urinary tract infections
  • Enlargement of the prostate
  • Prostatitis

However, a legal claim doesn’t just provide answers. Compensation can help people access the specialist treatment and therapies they may require to either combat the disease or as a consequence of cancer. 

Irwin Mitchell's Client Support Team help support patients and families affected by cancer. It provides support not just with the legal issues, but also with matters relating to employment, wills, and benefits as well as family issues. 

Find out more about Irwin Mitchell’s expertise in supporting those affected by cancer at our dedicated cancer claims section.

Orchid offers a range of support services for those affected by prostate cancer. More information on Orchid and its work can be found on its website.