Oliver Colvile – 2014 Parliamentary Question to the Department of Health

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Oliver Colvile on 2014-06-05.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what assessment his Department has made of outcomes for men with advanced prostate cancer.

Jane Ellison

The NHS England Specialised Commissioning team introduced nationally developed service specifications for a range of areas, including prostate cancer, during 2013-14. Prior to 2013, prostate cancer was routinely commissioned by primary care trusts, and as such an assessment of the changes in the level of access to prostate cancer treatments since 2010 is not technically feasible.

Routinely commissioned treatments for prostate cancer are: (i) radical prostatectomy; (ii) radical external beam radiotherapy; and (iii) radical brachytherapy. In addition, NHS England routinely commissions systemic treatments for prostate cancer, including hormone therapy and chemotherapy.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published technology appraisal guidance which recommends docetaxel (Taxotere) for hormone-refractory prostate cancer and abiraterone (Zytiga), in combination with prednisolone or prednisone, for castration-resistant metastatic prostate cancer previously treated with one docetaxel-containing regimen. NICE is also currently developing technology appraisal guidance on a number of other drugs for prostate cancer.

National Health Service commissioners are legally required by regulations to fund those treatments recommended by NICE in its technology appraisal guidance.

Five-year survival rates improved from around 42% in the late 1980s to 79.7% in 2007 (currently 80.2% according to data for 2006-2010 published in October 2012) due in part to the effects of increased Prostate Specific Antigen testing and earlier detection. However, survival rates in England are still lagging behind comparable countries in Europe.

Cancer Research UK has estimated that men with advanced, incurable prostate cancer treated in trials or under drug access schemes at the Royal Marsden Hospital survived on average 41 months, compared to between 13 and 16 months 10 years ago.

The Government’s Mandate to NHS England sets out an ambition to make England one of the most successful countries in Europe at preventing premature deaths from all cancers, including prostate cancer. Cancer indicators in the NHS Outcomes Framework and the Public Health Outcomes Framework will help NHS England to assess progress in improving cancer survival and mortality for men with prostate cancer.